Mann Ki Baat | We have a settled tradition of storytelling and ‘Katha’ in our society: PM Modi

Referring to the farm bills, Prime Minister Modi said, “farmers now have the power to sell their produce anywhere and to anyone and they have the freedom to grow any crop and to sell it at a price best suited to them.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Mann Ki Baat address said the recent troubles had brought families close.

“Where there is a soul, there is a story” Mr. Modi said, stressing the lost art of storytelling needs to be brought to the fore.

“During my travels, I used to meet with kids. I used to ask them for stories, they would say that they would tell jokes instead. That used to astound me, we have a settled tradition of storytelling and Katha in our society,” he said. “Nowadays science fiction is also popular.”

He mentioned Amar Vyas who has started a gaatha website. “Vaishali Vyavahare Deshpande in Marathi, Srividya Veeraraghavan of Chennai, Kathalaya and the Indian Storytelling Network are popularising storytelling and forming networks of storytellers,” he said.

Aparna Atreya, Aparna Jaishankar, Shailaja Sampath and Sowmya Srinivasan join from Bengaluru Storytelling Society and narrate a story on Krishna Deva Raya and Tenali Rama. Ms. Athreya thanked the PM for highlighting the importance of storytelling.

Speaking on the importance of stories to impart good values and sanskar to the children, Mr. Modi requested all storytellers to document and disseminate stories from our freedom movement and our travails under colonialism, to mark 75 years of independence.

Seydu Dembele of Mali in West Africa joined the call, recalled attending the Kumbh Mela in the past and expressed desire to visit again. Every afternoon, Mr. Dembele hosts a radio broadcast called Indian Frequency on Bollywood songs. He is known as “Mali’s Indian Babu”.

‘Keeping produce out of APMCs proved beneficial’

“There is a saying: he who is rooted, will remain unshaken by the biggest storms. Our agricultural sector and farmers are such. They form the basis of aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India),” Mr. Modi said.

“I receive letters from farmers about the way agriculture is changing.”

Quoting Kanwar Chauhan, a farmer from Haryana, Mr. Modi said he used to have problems selling fruits and vegetables outside mandis, but since 2014, when fruits and vegetables were kept out of the APMCs, he made bigger profits by supplying directly to big hotels and retail chains.

“Around three to four years ago, in Maharashtra too, fruits and vegetables were kept out of the APMCs and trade now proceeds without middlemen.”

The PM gave an example of a Theni farmers produce company who grow bananas. “During the lockdown, they bought tonnes of vegetables and fruits and sold combo kits to Chennai, benefitting everyone.”

In Lucknow too, such direct selling was seen, middlemen were cut out and profits were directly earned by farmers, he said. “Consumers got items at reasonable .”

“Ismail bhai of Banaskantha of Gujarat grows high-yielding potatoes and sells directly to big retailers.”

The more modern alternatives we have for agriculture, the faster it will grow, he said.

‘Nurture desire to do something for our country’

Mr. Modi spoke about the Jallianwala Bagh incident: “A 12-year-old boy visited the site of the massacre and it left his mind burning with vengeance. I’m speaking of Shaheed Vir Bhagat Singh. We will be marking his Jayanti on 28 September. He managed to sow fear in the minds of an imperial power like the British. He was also a thinker and believed in team work. He lived for a mission of independence and gave his life for it.”

Similarly, we must nurture the desire to do something for our country, he said. “Last year, the world saw this in the commitment of our soldiers in the surgical strikes.”

“In the next few weeks, we will recall many of our idols on their birth anniversaries: October 2 will mark Gandhi Jayanti and also the birth of Lal Bahadur Shastri; October 11 is the Jayanti of Jayprakash Narayan as well as Nanaji Deshmukh; October 12 is the jayanti of Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia, who, despite being royalty dedicated her life to the people.”

Mr. Modi recalls that during the Ekta Yatra under M.M. Joshi’s leadership, when they reached Shivpuri around 2 a.m., “someone knocked on my door and Rajmataji was standing before me with a glass of hot turmeric milk.” “I later found out she did so for everyone on that Yatra. She demonstrated what maternal love was.”

“Let us all build a country which these great men and women would take pride in.”

He concluded cautioning against complacence in dealing with the pandemic. “Till medicines are not there, we should not let up on vigilance. Maintain do gaz doori, and wear masks.”

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