Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday called for civility in public life to deal with different opinions. Addressing an event organised by a Malayalam media outlet, Modi said there must be constant dialogue irrespective of one’s thought process.

The prime minister was speaking at the Manorama News Conclave via videoconferencing. The conclave is being organised by Malayala Manorama Company Limited in Kochi.

Modi acknowledged that he was speaking at a forum “where perhaps I do not have many whose thought process is similar to mine”. “But there are enough thinking people whose constructive criticism is something I greatly look forward to,” he said.

“Usually, it is believed that public figures prefer to be on forums whose thought process matches with the person’s own world view because there is a lot of comfort in being among such people,” Modi said. “Of course, I also cherish being among such surroundings but at the same time, I believe there must be a constant and continuous dialogue between individuals and organisations irrespective of one’s thought process.”

He added: “We need not have to agree on everything but there must be enough civility in public life for differing streams to be able to hear each other’s point of view.”

Congress MP from Kerala, Shashi Tharoor, tweeted in response to Modi’s remarks about constructive criticism: “We in the Opposition certainly intend to put this to the test – constructively, and always in the national interest. But criticism there will be, [and] we hope the ruling establishment values it in the spirit of what @narendramodi ji said today.”

This week, Tharoor found himself in trouble with his party after he claimed that the prime minister should be praised whenever he says or does the right thing, to add credibility to the Opposition’s criticisms whenever he errs. He had to explain his remarks to the Kerala unit of the Congress, and the party accepted his explanation on Thursday.

Further, hailing the “new India”, Modi said that for many years, “a culture was perpetrated in which aspiration became a bad word”. “India is changing fast and this change is happening for the good,” he said. “At the core of the New India spirit are individual aspirations, collective endeavours and a spirit of ownership for national progress.”

“New India is about participative democracy, a citizen-centric government and proactive citizenry. We see a spirit of New India in the vibrant start-up ecosystem. Youngsters are creating fantastic platforms, showcasing their entrepreneurial spirit...This is an India where the surnames of the youth do not matter. What matters is their ability to make their own name.”

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