Ahmedabad: After the `snub` from Wharton, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi addressed the Indian Diaspora in the states of Edison, New Jersey, Chicago, Illinois, of USA through a video conference facility on Saturday at 8.00 pm (local time in US).
Modi, who often faced questions over the killing of Muslims in the post-Godhra riots in 2002, did not refer to the controversial issue in his nearly an hour-long speech in Hindi.
"My definition of secularism is simple: `India First`. Whatever you do, wherever you work, India should be the top priority for all its citizens," Modi told NRIs.
"Country is above all religions and ideologies," he argued and asked people to follow the same.
"I agree friends that as an Indian, as a citizen who loves India, you will also agree with my definition...We might do any work or take any decision, India should be supreme," he said.
"Nothing less than India`s wellbeing should be our goal. And if this happens, secularism will automatically run in our blood," the Gujarat Chief Minister said.
Notably, Modi was denied US visa on the issue of human rights violation.
He said if a government serve the people selflessly, then they would forgive its mistakes as well.
"When we get a mandate of five years, we must work on that and serve people selflessly. If we do that then people will forgive our mistakes as well," Modi said.
He further underlined that Gujarat has become a symbol of development.
He also exhibited his respect for Indians, who are living abroad, saying they come back to India and try to do their bit for the country. `They open schools, hospitals and other facilities in the rural areas in the country in a hope of doing something for the society`.
The Gujarat CM proudly said that 19th century belonged to the European countries but the 21st century belongs to us.
Elections can be won on development alone and no one can stop India from becoming a world leader, said Modi, adding, “I don`t want to criticise any government."
Invoking Swami Vivekananda and youth in his speech, Modi said "development" is the key to all the problems of the country.
"Swami Vivekananda dreamt of a `Jagat Guru Bharat`- an India at the peak of world leadership and that it is now our responsibility to convert his dream into reality."
Highlighting the development model of his government, because of which he has been re-elected time and again, Modi said Gujarat today is a "ray of hope" in this "era of darkness" in the country.
Talking about times when the British ruled India, Modi said he believed India could have been a successful trading country.
He further stated that global recession has affected the economy of the whole world. However, our industrialists and traders didn`t give up.
Expressing optimism over the Indian impact at a global level, Modi said, "We can change the world, we can and we will. Have to put right things at the right place. India has got everything. People of Gujarat have always voted for development."
He further hit out at UPA’s budget, saying the Union Budget of India allocated Rs 1,000 crore for skill development; whereas Gujarat allocated Rs 800 crore. “This should give you an idea of the Gujarat model.”
The Gujarat CM also talked about boosting tourism in Gujarat, which was never a tourist destination.
He urged the large Indian Diaspora to convince foreigners to visit India as tourists.
Once they start coming to India, it will give a big boost to the country`s tourism industry and strengthen the economy.
In particular, he urged the hotel and motels association of the US - which is dominated by the Gujarati-origin people - to show India on the television sets of their rooms.
"This would be your big service to India. It is not always necessary to invest in India or send dollars, motivating people to travel to India is also another way of service," he said.
He further credited people of Gujarat for his three consecutive wins.
Last week, the Wharton India Economic Forum cancelled Modi`s keynote address to the prestigious annual event because of opposition from a section of professors and students of the University of Pennsylvania.
But, Modi did not touch upon the controversial Wharton issue. The event organised by the Overseas Friends of BJP was planned much in advance of the Wharton controversy.
Several hundred people gathered at two places - Edison in New Jersey and Chicago - to listen to Modi`s speech.
(With PTI inputs)