Governor of Tamil Nadu, Shri R.N.Ravi, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Shri MK Stalin, Cabinet Minister Shri Mansukh Mandaviya, My colleague in the Council of Ministers Shri L. Murugan, Bharti Pawar Ji Ministers of the Tamil Nadu Government, Members of Parliament, Members of the Tamil Nadu Assembly,
Sisters and brothers of Tamil Nadu, Vanakkam! Let me begin by conveying Pongal and Makar Sankranti greetings to you all. As the famous song goes –
தை பிறந்தால் வழி பிறக்கும்
Today we are meeting for two special reasons: The inauguration of 11 medical colleges. And The inauguration of the new building of the Central Institute of Classical Tamil. Thus, we are furthering the health of our society and making the connect with our culture stronger.
Medical education is one of the most desired streams for studies. The problem of shortage of doctors in India was well-known. But there were not enough efforts to address this problem. Perhaps vested interests also did not let previous governments take the right decisions. And, access to medical education remained an issue. Ever since we have taken office, our Government has worked to address this gap. In 2014, our country had 387 medical colleges. In last seven years only, this number has gone up to 596 medical colleges. This is an increase of 54 percent. In 2014, our country had around 82 thousand medical Under Graduate and Post Graduate seats. In last seven years, this number has gone up to around 1 lakh 48 thousand seats. This is an increase of about 80 percent. In 2014, there were only seven AIIMS in the country. But after 2014, the number of AIIMS approved has increased to twenty two. At the same time, various reforms have been under-taken to make the medical education sector more transparent. Regulations for setting up medical colleges and hospitals have been liberalised without compromising on quality.
I am told that this would be the first time that 11 medical colleges are being inaugurated at one stroke located in any one State. Just few days back, I had inaugurated 9 medical colleges at the same time in Uttar Pradesh. So, I am getting to break my own record. It is important to address regional imbalances. In that light, it is good to see 2 of the medical colleges inaugurated are in the aspirational districts of Ramanathapuram and Virudhunagar. These are districts where the development needs require special attention. One college is in the remote hilly district of the Nilgiris.
The once in a lifetime COVID-19 pandemic has re-affirmed the importance of the health sector. The future will belong to societies which invest in healthcare. The Government of India has brought many reforms in the sector. Thanks to Ayushman Bharat, the poor have access to top quality and affordable healthcare. The cost of knee implants and stents have become one third of what it was. PM-Jan Aushadhi Yojana has brought about a revolution in access to affordable medicines. There are over 8000 such stores in India. This scheme has particularly helped the poor and the middle class. The money spent on medicines has come down greatly. To further healthy lifestyle among women, sanitary napkins are being provided at a cost of 1 Rupee. I would urge the people of Tamil Nadu to take full advantage of this scheme. The Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Infrastructure Mission aims to address the critical gaps in health infrastructure and health research especially at District level. A support of over Rupees three thousand crore would be provided to Tamil Nadu in the next five years. This will help in establishing Urban Health & Wellness Centres, District Public Health labs and Critical Care Blocks across the state. The benefits of this for the people of Tamil Nadu will be immense.
In the coming years I envision India as being the go-to destination for quality and affordable care. India has everything needed to be a hub for medical tourism. I say this based on the skills of our doctors. I urge the medical fraternity to look at tele-medicine as well. Today, the world has also taken note of Indian practices that further wellness. This includes Yoga, Ayurveda and Siddha. We are working to make these popular in a language the world understands.
The new building of the Central Institute of Classical Tamil will make Tamil studies more popular. It will also give a wider canvas to students and researchers. I am told that the Central Institute of Classical Tamil intends to translate Tirukkural in various Indian and foreign languages. This is a good step. I have always been fascinated by the richness of the Tamil language and culture. One of the happiest moments of my life was when I got a chance to speak a few words in the world’s oldest language, Tamil, at the United Nations. The Sangam classics are our window to the rich society and culture of the ancient times. Our Government also had the honour of setting up ‘Subramania Bharati Chair’ on Tamil Studies at Banaras Hindu University. Located in my Parliamentary constituency, this will drive greater curiosity about Tamil. When I launched a translation of Thirukkural in Gujarati, I knew that the rich thoughts of this timeless work would connect with the people of Gujarat and drive greater interest in ancient Tamil literature.
We have given great emphasis on promotion of Indian languages and Indian Knowledge Systems in our National Education Policy 2020. Tamil can now be studied as a classical language in school education at the secondary level or middle level. Tamil is one of the languages in the Bhasha-Sangam where school students get familiar with 100 sentences in various Indian languages in audio, videos. Largest e-content of Tamil has been digitized under the Bharatavani project.
We are encouraging education in mother tongue and local languages at schools. Our Government has also started making technical courses like Engineering available to students in Indian languages. Tamil Nadu has produced many bright Engineers. Many of them have become top global technology and business leaders. I call upon this talented Tamil diaspora to help develop Tamil language content in STEM courses. We are also developing an Artificial intelligence based language translation tool to translate English language online courses into twelve different Indian languages including Tamil.
India’s diversity is our strength. Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat seeks to enhance the spirit of unity in diversity and bring our people closer. When a young child in Haridwar sees a Thiruvalluvar statue and finds out about his greatness, a seed of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat is laid in a young mind. A similar spirit is seen when a child from Haryana visits the rock memorial at Kanyakumari. When children from Tamil Nadu or Kerala learn about Veer Baal Divas, they get connected with the life and message of the Sahibzades. The great sons of this soil who sacrificed their lives but never compromised on their ideals. Let us make efforts to discover other cultures. I assure you that you will enjoy it.
Before I conclude, I would like to request you all to follow all COVID-19 related protocols particularly mask discipline. India’s vaccination drive is making remarkable progress. In the last few days, youngsters in the 15 to 18 category have begun to get their doses. The precaution dose for the elderly and healthcare workers have begun too. I urge all those who are eligible to get vaccinated.
Guided by the mantra of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas and Sabka Prayas, all of us have to work together to bring a positive change in the lives of 135 crore Indians. Learning from the pandemic we keep working to ensure inclusive and quality healthcare services to all our countrymen. We need to learn from our rich culture and build the foundations of Amrit Kaal for the future generations to come. Best wishes once again to all on the occasion of Pongal. May it bring peace and prosperity to all of us.
(Release ID: 1789399)