Source: The Hitavada      Date: 26 May 2018 10:33:23

New Delhi, May 24 (PTI): Lauding the goals set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for cleaning the Ganga, Dutch Premier Mark Rutte, on Thursday, said, worldwide there was a need to value water, not only as an economic asset, but also for its social, cultural and environmental importance.  “I have great respect for the goals set by Prime minister Modi under the Namami Gange programme,” the visiting dignitary stressed, while speaking at an event organised by Indo-Dutch Ganga forum to take forward the memorandum of understanding between the Water Resource Ministry and the Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment ..., an official statement said. 

THAT Namami Gange project often wins accolades from global statesmen, is now a matter of national pride. So well-thought-out is the initiative that every person who understands the criticality of water as a common heritage of humanity realises the importance of Namami Gange concept. The stress that Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has attached to the project, thus, is getting recognised not just for its economic dimension but also for its social, cultural and environmental dimension.

Namami Gange, thus, is not just a river-cleaning project but also an initiative aimed at reminding ourselves of the historic importance the Ganga river has had in the mind of the average Indian person. For him, the Ganga is not just a river, but a lifeline of India’s ancient ethos. For him the Ganga represents the origin of the rich Indian culture that has the capacity to accommodate all strains of thought and all styles of action. For him, the Ganga also stands for a very secular symbol of national pride and purity of cultural refinement. For him, it is on the banks of the Ganga river that India truly evolved, and developed through time.

This is, of course, not an easy thought to understand. For that to happen properly, one has to study the history of the Ganga in addition to her geography. Those who make the attempt arrive at a very elevating conclusion that it is a river that represents time and its (time’s) travel through the labyrinthine process of human evolution across countless thousands of years. Namami Gange project, thus, is an attempt to start the process of purification of that flow of spiritual life of India.

We must be thankful to Prime Minister Mr. Rajiv Gandhi who first thought of cleansing the Ganga. That he could extend his thinking to such an idea in the aftermath of his mother’s ghastly assassination, was certainly a tribute to a great mind at work beyond bias, beyond politics. However, Mr. Gandhi’s biggest failure was that he could never give the Ganga cleansing project the impetus it needed. Subsequently as well, most Prime Ministers failed on that same count. None of them could really add a special push to the Ganga cleansing project.

This is where we realise the importance of the Modi factor -- against the background of his predecessors’ casualness about the task of cleansing of the Ganga. Not only did Mr. Modi make available enough funds to drive the project, but also asked one of the most dynamic colleagues of his -- Mr. Nitin Gadkari -- to drive the all-important Namami Gange project. The special significance of this delegation was that the Prime Minister wanted to tell the world that he attached the most special significance to Namami Gange as the new India’s signature issue.

Of course, the details of the massive project of cleansing of the Ganga are truly mind-boggling. That the project requires huge amounts of money, is the smaller part of the effort. The larger part is the recognition of the critical spiritual importance of Namami Gange by India and her people -- as a truly secular endeavour. The appreciation showered by the Dutch Premier upon Mr. Modi on this count, thus, stems from this secular consideration because he, and also the world, understands the importance of the Ganga as a spiritual flow of India’s ancient culture and ethos and history. The world’s knowledgeable persons know that the human progress all over the globe was closely linked to the Ganga river through countless centuries. History of human excellence evolved on the banks of the Ganga and spread its influence all over the world. The human communities all over the world drew their sense of fine life from the culture that evolved on the banks of the Ganga.

Though the Government of India made the Ganga cleansing project as a critical endeavour since the time of Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, it was Mr. Narendra Modi who gave it the most critical push -- by making it plush with funds and rich with thought of greatness of Indian civilisation. The global recognition to the project is coming just because the world realises what kind of contribution the Ganga river has made to the process of evolution of human culture elsewhere -- beyond the Indian shores and borders.

That the Ganga is not just a river, is one fact now the world recognises in all sincerity. There still are some persons in India trying to dub the project as a Hindu-appeasement initiative. That is hardly the case, however. That cleansing of the Ganga would mean a great cleansing and purifying of the environmental eco-system of the country, is a fact now everybody is recognising. This is Mr. Modi’s contribution.

Still, the Namami Gange project has to travel a long distance. Mr. Nitin Gadkari has set massive targets in pursuance of the final goal. All the statistical details of the project are simply mind-boggling. But the most energising aspect of Namami Gange is that the project has given the country and its people a signature tune of an eternal and spiritual hymn.