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Narendra Modi hails Dawoodi Bohras’ contribution to progress, nation building

Mumbai : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday paid glowing tributes to the miniscule Dawoodi Bohra community for its immense contributions to Indias progress, development and nation-building.

Modi lauded the community for its all-round involvement and commitment to the nation through education, trade, business, conserving water, protecting environment and other social-academic activities.

“The Dawoodi Bohras are playing an important role in the development of India. They are spread out all over the world. Now they should become the ‘brand ambassadors’ of India wherever they have settled,” Modi said amid a thunderous applause.

The Prime Minister was speaking at the inauguration of the prestigious Dawoodi Bohra seat of learning – the Mumbai campus of the ‘Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah’ – at Marol, in the presence of the spiritual head of the Dawoodi Bohras, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis and other dignitaries.

Pointing out that any community is judged by how it keeps pace with the changing times, the Prime Minister said that the Dawoodi Bohras have always proved themselves at the forefront on this count, and the learning institution (‘Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah’) is a glowing example in this direction.

The ‘Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah’ was founded in Surat in 1810 by then spiritual head Syedna Abde’ali Saifuddin, and later it opened campuses in Karachi (1983) and Nairobi (2011), with the fourth campus starting in Mumbai on Friday.

Modi had visited the Surat campus as then Chief Minister in 2003, and earlier, then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had also graced the venue in June 1960.

Modi extolled the vision and dedication of the founder, Syedna Abde’ali Saifuddin, who displayed the foresight to launch an academic institution of excellence, considered inconceivable at the height of the British Raj.
Modi also requested that the community should refrain from addressing him as ‘PM’ or ‘CM’, “since I have been closely associated with four generations of the Syedna family”.

“For me, it’s like returning to the family… I have known four generations of the Syedna family and they all come to my house,” Modi said amid another round of applause.

Recalling his warm bonds with the previous community head, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, the PM said that when he met him at the age of 99, he was astounded by his commitment of teaching small children and “he was an inspiration and guidance for me”.

“Now, I share a similar rapport with his son (Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin). They continue to shower the same love and affection on me. Wherever I go, in India and even abroad, a few Dawoodi Bohras always come to meet me, even at 2 a.m.

They have so much love and concern for their country,” said Modi. The PM then narrated that when Mahatma Gandhi had gone to break the Salt Act on April 6, 1930, he had spent the previous night (April 5) at the Syedna’s sea-front bungalow ‘Saifee Villa’ in the tiny village of Dandi.

“Years later, the community readily heeded my request and donated the Syedna’s Saifee Villa to the government, where a memorial museum has come up,” said Modi.

The PM also dwelt at length on India’s massive progress in the academic sector in the past eight years with colleges, universities, medical and engineering colleges and other institutions of higher learning coming up rapidly all over the country.

He said during the British Raj, English was made the medium of education and unfortunately the same continued even after Independence, depriving a large section of the poor, Dalits and other deserving people of the opportunity to get education as they lacked the knowledge of English.

However, Modi said now the government has changed it to give importance to the mother tongue and local language for education. The government will give medical and engineering education also in local languages, imparting ‘holistic training and education’ to make the students ready to face the ‘real world challenges’.



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