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My definition of secularism is 'India First': Modi.

Gandhinagar, Mar. 10 ( ANI ): Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who addressed the Indian-American community in America via video conferencing from here on Sunday, said his idea of secularism is 'India First'.

Modi, whose secular credentials are often questioned due to the 2002 communal riots that rocked Gujarat and dented his image severely, talked about keeping the interests of the country above everything else as his definition of secularism.

"My definition of secularism is very simple, India First. Any work we do, any decision we take, India should figure primarily in it. Nothing should be less than the well being of India. If this is kept in mind, then all of the secularism will itself flow in our veins. We shall not let India incur any losses. Nor will we let India's honour, prestige, dreams or its youth's dreams be harmed," he said.

Pointing out the dismal economic conditions that India is facing with the current federal government struggling to cope up with it, Modi projected the growth of Gujarat under his leadership, and added that progress and development in his state is being noticed across the globe.

"In such a situation when there is darkness everywhere, then if a lamp lights up in a distance, then it is but natural for the vision to be attracted there. In such a situation, Gujarat has lighted up that lamp. It has brought in a ray of hope. India is rising steadily. In the start of the 21st century, the way it went down, everyone should be distressed from it. During this time, the journey of Gujarat's progress is being talked about all over the world," he said.

Modi also laid stress on harnessing the power of the youth in India.

"India is such a country that has the highest number of young people. My dear brothers and sisters in America, you will be happy to know that today India is the world's youngest nation. 65 percent of our population is below 35 years of age. Can you imagine? Such a young nation, whose youths have dreams, who have courage and capability, if we concentrate on that power then we can change many situations," he said.

Last week, the Wharton India Economic Forum cancelled Modi's keynote address to the prestigious annual event because of opposition from a section of professors and students of the University of Pennsylvania.

Modi, who secured an electoral hat-trick in Gujarat in December last year, had been selected by students to address the Wharton India Economic Forum via videoconference.

The Gujarat Chief Minister, who is being touted by many as the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate in 2014, had to face protests in the national capital last month when he arrived for his first public address at Delhi University's prestigious Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC). ( ANI )

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Publication:Asian News International
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Mar 10, 2013
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