PM interacts with Christian community on occasion of Christmas

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The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi interacted with the Christian community on the occasion of Christmas at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg, New Delhi, the official residence of the Prime Minister of India, today. He also addressed the programme marking Christmas celebrations. School children also presented a choir performance.

Wishing everyone, especially people of the Christian community a Merry Christmas, the Prime Minister thanked everyone present for joining him on this very special and sacred occasion. He expressed delight in accepting the Indian Minority Foundation’s proposal to celebrate Christmas together and thanked them for the initiative. Throwing light on his close and very warm relations with the Christian community for a long time, the Prime Minister recalled holding frequent meetings with the Christian community and their leaders as Gujarat Chief Minister. Calling his interaction with The Holy Pope just a few years ago as a very memorable moment, the Prime Minister highlighted the discussions on issues such as social harmony, global brotherhood, climate change and inclusive development to make earth a better place.

Noting that Christmas is not just the day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ but also to remember his life, message and values, the Prime Minister underlined the values of compassion and service that Jesus lived by. He said that Jesus worked to create an inclusive society where justice prevails for all and it is these values that are illuminating the way like a guiding light in the development journey of India.

Prime Minister Modi highlighted the similarity of values between different streams of social life, which unite us as he gave the example of the Holy Bible which emphasizes the service of others. “Service as the supreme religion. In The Holy Bible, truth has been given great importance and it is said that only truth will show us the path to salvation”, the Prime Minister said. He also mentioned the all sacred Upanishads which focus on knowing the ultimate truth to liberate ourselves. PM Modi emphasized moving forward by focusing on shared values and heritage. “For the modern India of the 21st century, this cooperation, harmony, and spirit of Sabka Prayas will take India to new heights.

The Prime Minister mentioned one of the Holy Pope’s Christmas addresses where he prayed for blessings for those who are working for eradication of poverty.  The Holy Pope, the Prime Minister said, believes in the notion of poverty harming the dignity of individuals. This, he said, resonates with the mantra of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas and Sabka Prayas. “Our government is ensuring that the benefits of development reach everyone and no one is left untouched”, said the Prime Minister, informing that many people of the Christian faith, especially poor segments, are benefitting from the schemes of the government.

The Prime Minister said, “The nation proudly acknowledges the contribution of the Christian Community”.  Prime Minister Modi praised the contributions of the Christian Community to the freedom movement and highlighted the various intellectual thinkers and leaders. He underlined that Gandhiji himself had said that the Non-Cooperation Movement was conceived under the patronage of Sushil Kumar Rudra, Principal of St. Stephen’s College. He highlighted the crucial role played by the Christian community in giving direction to society and mentioned active participation in social service towards the poor and the deprived. He also noted their contributions in important areas of education and healthcare.

Reiterating India’s resolution to be a developed nation by 2047 and the importance of the youth in the journey, the Prime Minister emphasized the need for physical, mental and emotional fitness of the youth. He requested the community leaders to make people aware of the movements for popularizing fitness, millets, nutrition and the campaign against drugs.

Noting the tradition of giving gifts on Christmas, the Prime Minister stressed gifting a better planet to the coming generations. “Sustainability is the need of today’s time”, PM Modi said underlining that living a sustainable lifestyle is the central message of Mission LiFE, an international movement being led by India. He reiterated that the campaign inspires pro-planet people to adopt a pro-planet lifestyle. He mentioned reusing and recycling, using biodegradable materials, adopting millets, and buying products with minimal carbon footprint. He expressed belief that the socially conscious Christian community can play a major role in this mission.

The Prime Minister also discussed about Vocal for Local. “When we promote local products, when we become ambassadors of goods made in India, it is a form of service to the country. I would also urge the Christian community to be more vocal for local”, he said.

The Prime Minister wished that the festive season unite the nation as one and bring together every citizen. “May this festival strengthen the bond that keeps us united even in our diversity. May this occasion of Christmas fill all our lives with happiness. May the coming year bring prosperity, happiness, and peace for all of us”, the Prime Minister concluded.

Prominent persons from the Christian community from across the country participated in the interaction. Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church of India and Archbishop of Bombay, who has also served as member of the Pope’s Council of the Cardinal Advisers, thanked the Prime Minister for his presence on the occasion. He also noted that the day marks the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and spoke about his passion for good governance while drawing the analogy with the teachings of Jesus Christ about working for the development and progress of others. Cardinal Oswald Gracias thanked PM Modi for his efforts towards the country, the Christian community and the world.

Renowned sports icon Anju Bobby George mentioned the transformation of sports over her long sports career. She recalled the tepid response in her times and how the country and the leadership celebrate today’s athletes’ accomplishments. She acknowledged that through Khelo India and Fit India, sports are being talked about and Indian athletes are doing great in the international arena. She credited the Prime Minister’s leadership for the transformation. She also touched upon how women empowerment is becoming a reality. “Every Indian girl is ready to dream and they know that their dreams will come true one day”, said the ace athlete and expressed happiness for India’s proposal for hosting the 2036 Olympics.

The Rev. Dr Paul Swarup, the Bishop of the Diocese of Delhi, Church of North India thanked the Prime Minister for his gracious presence on the occasion of Christmas. Recalling the story of the Gospel and the advent of Jesus Christ, Dr Swarup highlighted the sacrifices made by Jesus Christ for people and drew the analogy of the efforts of the Prime Minister towards society and the people. He conveyed his best wishes to the Prime Minister on the occasion of Christmas.

John Varghese, Principal St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, as a representative of the education community, commended the Prime Minister’s vision, determination and large-heartedness as reflected in the new National Education Policy and other policies as well. Highlighting both local and global aspects of the vision of NEP, the Principal praised the NEP’s focus on school education. He also mentioned provisions like promotion of mother tongue and keeping the board exams limited to class 12 as progressive steps. With regard to higher education, he praised the sharing of resources and the promise of autonomy for high-performing institutions. He hailed the push for innovation, health and sports in recent times. Shri John Varghese also informed about the Young Leaders Neighbourhood First Fellowship programme by St. Stephen’s College and said it is in line with the Prime Minister’s vision of neighborhood first policy. Touching upon India’s successful leadership at the G20 Summit, Shri Varghese praised the Prime Minister for becoming the voice of the Global South. “India is a great Civilization, your steps and policies have shown splendid results. As a teacher, I see the benefits that our young people will gain through the steps that you initiated such as Digital India, National Education, Neighbourhood First Policy puts India in top position globally”, he said. He informed that in last night’s service at the college Chapel, there was a prayer for the Prime Minister as the leader of the country. Noting the Prime Minister’s love for the world’s oldest language, the Principal concluded his remarks with Tamil to the utter delight of the Prime Minister.

Archbishop Anil Couto, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Delhi thanked the Prime Minister for organizing the Christmas celebrations at his residence which signifies that is not just a celebration of the Christian community but a national feast. Amplifying the message of peace, love and unity, he wished for the well-being of all citizens of the country and fulfilment of the Prime Minister’s message of ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’. He underlined that the Christian community has always worked for the welfare of the country and assured the Prime Minister of continued support towards the development, unity and progress of India. He blessed the Prime Minister with the wisdom, grace and strength of God to carry on his wonderful leadership for the nation and at the global level. He concluded the address by wishing everyone a Happy New Year and continued success for the nation and its citizens.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, The Rev. Dr Paul Swarup reiterated his happiness of celebrating Christmas with the Prime Minister at his official residence. Bishop Thomas Mar Antonios thanked the Prime Minister for the opportunity to engage in a dialogue and discussion with him on the auspicious occasion of Christmas. Cardinal Oswald Gracias said that the Prime Minister’s ideas are percolating down to every Indian and our country could be the leading country of the world. Archbishop Anil Couto expressed happiness that with the mantra of Sabka  Saath Sabka Vikas, Sabka Viswas and Sabka Prayas, the Prime Minister is providing leadership to our country on the global platform. John Varghese, Principal St. Stephen’s College, once again praised the current policy of pegging the benchmark higher in every sphere and said ‘If India wins, the world wins’.  Alexander George, Joint MD, Muthoot Group highlighted the Prime Minister’s pivotal role in the transformation of the nation as witnessed not just by the Christian Community but every community in India, and the promise for a better future. ⁠Alukkas Joy Verghese, Chairman of Joyalukkas Group admired the Prime Minister’s down-to-earth, simple and friendly personality. Kurian Vargese, an NRI businessman from Bahrain highlighted the Prime Minister’s efforts to create a positive outlook for India not just in Gulf countries but all over the world. Calling the Prime Minister a great leader, athlete Anju Bobby George praised the Prime Minister’s zeal for promoting sports. “I think in the near future, we will be at the top”, she said. Actor Dino Morea lauded the Prime Minister’s contribution towards the development of India and said that the country along with its people is moving in the right direction. Ashwin Jerome Fernandes, Regional Director, Africa, Middle East and South Asia at QS Quacquarelli Symonds said that PM Modi’s leadership has been magnanimous throughout the world and created a huge appeal for India. ⁠Kevin J. Kimtis, Second Secretary, Embassy of The Holy See Vatican underlined the Prime Minister’s dedication towards the Indian people where service towards them is the government’s priority. Bishop Simon John expressed immense happiness that for the first time, a Prime Minister had invited the Christian Community to celebrate Christmas at his residence. Anthony Jacob, CEO of Apollo 24*7 said that he sees the Prime Minister as a kind-hearted human being and thanked him for the interaction opportunity. Sunny Joseph, Administrator of Christ University expressed great delight upon the opportunity and said that his vision for the future and his message have uplifted everyone’s spirits. Yakub Mathew, MD, Wells Fargo Bank, Delhi hailed the Prime Minister’s leadership style where he demands change

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