Rabindranath Tagore had started his college in Santiniketan in December 1921 with the money he had received when he won the Nobel Literature Prize in 1913. This was Modi’s first visit to Visva-Bharati, the only central university, of which he is the chancellor. Rabindranath Tagore is highly respected by both India and Bangladesh because he had written the national
anthems of both the nations.
Here are the top 10 highlights of PM Modi’s speeches:
1. Modi honours Rabindranath Tagore: Modi said that Tagore led his life with the belief that ‘world in one family’ (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam). He called Tagore was a global citizen. Praising Tagore’s brother Satyendranath Tagore, Modi said that he was the first Indian to join the civil services. He also taught English literature to Rabindranath while working as commissioner in Ahmadabad.
“I come across a lot of people who praise and respect Tagore. If we go to Afghanistan, everyone mentions the story of Kabuliwala. Across several universities, Tagore is respected as a learned man,” said Modi.
2. On India-Bangladesh ties: Modi said that India and Bangladesh have several bonds that unite the two countries. Santiniketan is that symbol of unity that could not be divided by the British nor the politics of partition.
3. On drinking water: Modi said that we felt sorry to learn about the non-availability of drinking water in Santiniketan. He said while travelling, some children told him that they don’t even have drinking water. “As a chancellor, I tender my apology,” said Modi right at the beginning of his speech.
4. Modi On electricity: Modi said Bangladesh was now getting 600 Megawatts (Mw) of electricity from India, and the target was to raise it to 1,100 Mw. He said in the northeastern states, an internet connection was coming through Bangladesh, while India has made available $8 billion letter of credit to the neighbouring country for carrying out development work.
5. On space-tech: Praising Sheikh Hasina and the people of Bangladesh "from my heart", Modi referred to the country launching its first satellite 'Bangabandhu'.
He said India was now using space technology to improve the standard of living of the poor and introduce more transparency and exuded confidence the sector will open new vistas of cooperation with the neighbouring country.
6. ‘The burning sun can be an advantage as well’: Averring that the constant connect between him and Hasina was giving a further momentum to the bilateral relations, Modi also referred to challenges like climate change.
"Climate change is before us, if the burning sun is a challenge for us, it can also be of advantage to us. PM Hasina has come up with a vision of 'power for all' by 2021, while in India, we have set up a target of electricity to every home by next year,” said Modi.
7. On village development: In order to mark the university’s mark the central university’s centenary in 2021, Modi urged the students of Visva-Bharati to turn 100 villages around in Santiniketan in West Bengal’s Birbhum district self-sufficient.
“The villages should have power connection, LPG gas supply, children should get vaccinations and the villagers should be able to fill up forms digitally,” Modi said during the university’s convocation programme. Modi also referred to a few central projects such as Swachh Bharat that could aid them in this effort.
8. Man breaches security to give Modi Tagore’s portrait: While Modi was leaving the dais after his convocation speech, a man suddenly mounted on the platform just to hand over a portrait of Rabindranath Tagore. Modi took the portrait from him and handed it over to his security personnel.
9. Bangladesh seeks 'cooperation of all' in sending back Rohingya refugees: Bangladesh sought the "cooperation of all" to put pressure on Myanmar to take back the around 1.1 million (11 lakh) Rohingya refugees given shelter in the country on "humanitarian ground".
10. The last few years have been a golden chapter in India-Bangladesh relationship when complicated issues of land and coastal boundaries were resolved, Modi said.
Expressing gratitude to India for "standing beside Bangladesh in times of crisis", Hasina, who is Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's daughter, said, "We will never forget how India stood beside us during the 1971 Liberation war."