Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday called on South Asian countries to come together to fight poverty in the region and unveiled a roadmap for his government envisaging a financial inclusion scheme for the poor to open bank account with built-in insurance, a plan to eliminate open defecation and proposing a moratorium on communal and caste violence.
"Can we not remove poverty? Can we not wage war against poverty?" Modi asked during his maiden address to the nation on the Independence Day from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort here.
"Why don't we SAARC countries decide to fight against poverty together. The strength of the saviour is much more than the strength of the person who kills. Lets unite to fight poverty," the Prime Minister said adding "can we not wage a war and emerge victorious against poverty. Let us defeat poverty."
Modi has made South Asia outreach as the cornerstone of his government's foreign policy, inviting top leaders of SAARC countries to his swearing in here on May 26 and visiting Bhutan and Nepal as prime minister so far.
In his 65-minute extempore speech in Hindi without any bullet-proof shield, Modi, who took over as PM less than three months ago, also announced that the Planning Commission, a Socialist-era vestige, would soon be done away with and a new institution keeping in view the economic changes internally and globally put in place.
Modi declared he would like to run the country on the basis of consensus and not on majority in parliament and called for a 10-year moratorium on caste and communal violence.
In an apparent reference to recent incidents of communal clashes in some parts of the country, the PM said communalism and casteism are an obstacle in the country's progress.
"We see violence on the basis of religion and caste. How long? Who is benefiting? We have fought enough, killed enough. If you look back, you will find that nobody has gained anything.... It took us to even partition. ... I appeal that for the sake of country's progress, there should be a 10-year moratorium on violence, at least for once, so that we are free from these ills. We should have peace, unity and harmony. Please believe my word, if we give up the path of violence and adopt the path of brotherhood, we will make progress," he said.