Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged his country’s citizens to take a pledge of “India First” at the foundation-laying ceremony of a new parliament building in New Delhi on Thursday.
“We’ll have to take the pledge of ‘India First.’ Our decisions should make the nation stronger and be measured on the same scale – that [the] nation’s welfare comes first. Our efforts in the next 25-26 years should be towards how do we want to see India in 2047, in our 100 years of Independence,” Modi said, according to the Times of India.
“If the old Parliament House gave direction to post-independence India, the new building would become a witness to the creation of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ [Self-Reliant India],” the prime minister added.
Modi launched the “Self-Reliant India” initiative in April in response to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, which he says exposed India’s excessive dependence on China for trade and manufacturing. “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” encourages Indian businesses to grow less reliant on foreign supply chains overall.
“We, the people of India, take this pledge – there will be no greater interest for us than national interest,” Modi said at Thursday’s stone-laying ceremony in the Indian national capital.
“The country’s concern, for us, will be more than our own concern. … [N]othing will be more important to us than the unity and integrity of the country. … [F]or us the dignity and fulfillment of the Constitution of the country will be the biggest goal of life,” the prime minister declared.
Prior to his speech, Modi laid the foundation stone of the new parliament building at New Delhi’s Parliament House Complex in a ceremony presided over by Hindu priests, who led a ritual blessing of the stone-laying to mark the occasion.
— ANI (@ANI) December 10, 2020
The new parliament building’s construction process “will use resource-efficient green technology, promote environment-friendly practices, generate employment opportunities, and contribute towards economic revitalization” in the national capital, according to a press release by the Indian prime minister’s office on Thursday.
Prime Minister Modi leads India’s ruling, Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which translates to the Indian People’s Party. Formerly a member of India’s national parliament, Modi was elected to the office of prime minister in 2014 by running on a populist platform, which has drawn comparisons to U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda. The landslide victory was repeated in 2019 when Modi won reelection by running on a similar platform, vowing to reignite Indian society by prioritizing the needs of the nation’s majority Hindus.