He was speaking at the valedictory function of the Vaicharik Kumbh held on the sidelines of the Simhastha Kumbh in Ujjain.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a strong case for societally-driven solutions to two of the biggest challenges facing the world — global warming and terrorism. He was speaking at the valedictory function of the Vaicharik Kumbh, a conference of thinkers, religious leaders and academics held on the sidelines of the Simhastha Kumbh in Ujjain.
The conference is an attempt by the Madhya Pradesh government to revive the tradition of Shastrarthor gathering where social issues of the day were discussed and solutions suggested in ancient India.
“World’s biggest concerns are global warming and terrorism… both, I feel, are made worse by a ‘holier than thou’ attitude,” he said. “What is the solution? What is behind their genesis? Simply holier than thou attitude or [the thinking] that my way is more correct than yours. This is dragging us towards conflict,” he said.
“Expansionism is another thing that is leading us towards conflict. Time has changed. Expansionism is not a solution to the problems. We should not go horizontal. We need to go vertical and raise ourselves from within,” Mr. Modi said.
He also released a 51-point ‘Simhastha Declaration’ jointly with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
He said that while no one knew when the tradition of Shastrarth got discontinued, this was a good time as any to rekindle it. “We are a civilisation that went by Vedic thought, then the Upanishads were derived from them, and then Shrutis and Smritis. Now hardly anyone recalls the Vedas, but we live a distillation of those values,” he said.
“Former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri asked Indians to forgo one meal a day when the country faced a shortage of foodgrains. People responded in a huge way — in the same way, when I appealed to people to give up their cooking gas subsidy to enable the truly poor to switch over from wood-fired stoves to gas stoves, more than a crore responded,” he said.
“We [Indians] inherit conflict management skills. Indians worship Lord Rama for his obedience and loyalty to his father and in the same breath, glorify Prahlad, who disobeyed his father. The same way Sita and Mira are also worshipped, which shows that people here are well adept at conflict management,” he said adding what the world was doing today, Indians had been practising for ages.
“If all these powers, including saints, and those working selflessly for society walk in a single direction then they can bring a major change to society, and in that, these 51 points [of the Simhastha declaration], in the days to come will play a major role, especially for people of India and the world,” he said.