PM Narendra Modi evades question on China, says 'let's think about ourselves'

Prime Minister Narendra Modi began the fourth day of his visit to Japan by underlining the need for women's empowerment in the present-day world.

PM Narendra Modi evades question on China, says 'let's think about ourselves'

Tokyo: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday began the fourth day of his visit to Japan by underlining the need for women's empowerment in the present-day world.

The PM also sought to address concerns of international community over India not signing the NPT by saying that the country's commitment to peace and non-violence is engrained in the "DNA of Indian society" which is above any international treaty or processes.

The Prime Minister, while replying to a question by a student of the Sacred Hearts University here, said: "India is a land of Lord Buddha. Buddha lived for peace and suffered for peace and that message is prevalent in India.”

During an interaction, he was asked how India would enhance trust of the international community without changing its stand on Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which it has refused to sign despite possessing nuclear weapons.

Modi used the land of Japan, which is the only country to have been the victim of an atom bomb attack, to send out the message on this issue amid moves to have a civil nuclear deal with Tokyo. India refuses to sign the NPT because it considers it as flawed.

Asserting that India's "commitment to non-violence is total", Modi said it is engrained in the "DNA of Indian society and this is above any international treaty", apparently referring to India's refusal to sign the NPT.

"In international affairs, there are some processes. But above them is the commitment of the society," he said, underlining the need for rising "above the treaties".

To buttress his point, the Prime Minister cited how India undertook the freedom struggle under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi with the entire society being committed to non-violence, surprising the whole world.

He went on to add that India, for thousands of years, has had the belief in 'vasudhaiva kutumbakam' (the whole world is one family). "When we consider the whole world as one family, how can we even think about doing anything that would harm or hurt anyone?"

The question was asked in the context of India recently ratifying the Additional Protocol on Safeguards Agreement signed with IAEA, that will allow inspectors of the atomic watchdog easy access to India's civil nuclear facilities.

Addressing students of the Sacred Hearts University here, the Prime Minister said he has always given a lot of importance to education of girl child.

On microblogging website Twitter, the PMO posted: "As a Gujarat chief minister, I dedicated myself to help educate the girl child in the state.”

The PM added that he spent USD 180 million for girl child education.

He also noted that the Indian Constitution framework seeks to integrate women in the decision making process.

"Our current Cabinet has 25 percent women, even our external affairs minister is a woman," he said.

“Asian countries, be it India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, there have been women who have served in top Government roles,” the PM added.

He further insisted that the society needed a combination of science of thinking and art of living.

“I welcome you all to visit India. I am grateful to have got the opportunity to interact with you,” added the PM.

During the interactive session, the Prime Minister was asked by another student about how peace could be pursued in Asia despite China's "expansionist" designs.

"You seemed to be troubled a lot by China," he quipped while addressing the student amid his observation that they were asking questions like journalists. "Let's focus on ourselves, not others. Let us remain committed to our values, focus on development and peace. Then the situation will improve," Modi said.

Speaking further, he carefully avoided any direct answer to the question and merely said, "India is a democratic country. Similarly, Japan is also a democratic country. If India and Japan together think about peace and positive things, we can make the world realise the strength of a democracy. We should focus on progress and development instead of paying attention to others. If we pay attention to our situation, our condition will be better."

He then narrated an imaginary story. "Imagine, there is darkness in a room. Someone goes inside with a broom to remove the darkness but he will fail. Another person goes inside with a sword to remove darkness. He will also fail. Another person goes with blanket to remove darkness, but he will also fail. Then a wise man goes with a small lamp, the darkness will be chased away. A lamp peace, prosperity and democracy will never be scared of darkness."

Replying to a question on environment, the Prime Minister said India had, for centuries, a tradition of dialogue (sanvaad) with nature. People in India think of the whole universe as their family, the Prime Minister said, saying that children call the moon their uncle, and rivers are addressed as “Mother". He asked the assembled students if they felt “climate change” was a correct terminology. He said that human beings had actually changed their “habits” leading to strife with nature. This strife with nature had caused problems, the Prime Minister said. He referred to a book - “Convenient Action” - that he had written on the subject, and invited students to read it online, if they were interested. 

The Prime Minister also invited the students to ask him questions on social media, saying he would be happy to answer them, and adding that he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe were friends online as well. 

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