Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday hailed national poet and freedom fighter Subramanya Bharathi's vision of independent and empowered women and said his government was inspired by it to ensure women-led development. He was virtually addressing the International Bharathi Festival to mark the 138th birth anniversary of the famous Tamil poet, hailed as Mahakavi, organised by Vanavil Cultural Centre.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami also paid glowing tributes to Bharathi, reverentially addressed as Bharathiyar. Heaping praise on Bharathi, Modi said it was very 'difficult' to describe him and that he "cannot be linked to any single profession or dimension."
"He was a poet, writer, editor, journalist, social reformer, freedom fighter, humanist and much more. One can only marvel at his works, his poems, his philosophy and his life," the Prime Minister said.
Modi recalled Bharathi had a 'close' link with Varanasi, which he represents in the Lok Sabha. On Bharathi's vision on women empowerment, Modi said the poet's definition of progress had a central role for them.
"Mahakavi Bharathiyar's definition of progress had a central role for women. One of the most important visions was that of independent and empowered women," Modi said. He "wrote that women should walk with their heads held high while looking people in the eye. We are inspired by this vision and we are working to ensure woman-led development," the Prime Minister added.
In every sphere of his government's working, there has been importance given to the dignity of women. "Today over 15 crore women entrepreneurs are funded by Mudra yojana. They are walking with their heads held high, looking us in the eye and telling us how they are becoming self-reliant," he said.
"Today, women are becoming part of our armed forces, with permanent commissioning. They are walking with their heads held high and looking us in the eye and filling us with confidence that the country is in safe hands," he said.
Further, the poorest of the poor women, who used to face problems of lack of safe sanitation, were benefited by the government's 10 crore safe and hygienic toilets, he said.
"They do not have to face problems anymore. They can walk with their heads held high and looking everyone in the eye as Mahakavi Bharathiyar had imagined," Modi added.
"This is the era of new India's Nari Shakthi (woman power). They are breaking barriers and making an impact. This is new India's tribute to Subramanya Bharathi," the PM said.
The freedom fighter understood that any society which is divided will not be able to succeed and at the same time he wrote about the "emptiness of political freedom which does not address social inequities and does not address social ills," Modi added.
Today's youth can learn much from Bharathi "more importantly to be courageous" as "fear was unknown to him," Modi said, while recalling Bharathi's famous lines "achamillai achamillai" (I know no fear) lines.
"I see the spirit in young India today. I see this spirit when they are at the forefront of innovation and excellence. India's startup space is filled with fearless youth who are giving something new to humanity," he said.
Such a can do spirit will bring wonders for our nation and our planet, he added.
While the poet sung songs of the greatness of ancient India, Vedas and Upanishads, our culture and tradition and our glorious past, "at the same time, he also warned us that simply living in past glory is not enough."
The freedom fighter wanted that there should be a spirit of enquiry for progress.
"His teachings are a strong reminder to us to remain united and committed to the empowerment of every single individual, especially the poor and the marginalised. There is a lot our youth have to learn from Bharathi. I wish everyone in our country reads his works and is inspired by them," Modi added.
Bharathi in his "short life" of 39 years, wrote so much, did so much, and excelled in so much. "His writings are a guiding light to us towards a glorious future," Modi said.
Chief Minister Palaniswami described Bharathi as a "multi-faceted personality", who earned a unique place for himself not just in Tamil literary space, but in the global arena. "He wrote songs on women's liberation," Palaniswami said, adding the freedom fighter had great dreams about an independent India.
Meanwhile, the Bharathi Award for the year was awarded to scholar Seeni Viswanathan and Modi praised him for "actively pursuing research" on Bharathi even at the age of 86.