Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the coronavirus pandemic threw a host of challenges and upended lives, but it also taught Indians an important lesson of self reliance.

In this year of the pandemic, people consciously shifted to “Made in India” products, the prime minister said in the last episode of his “Mann ki Baat” radio programme for 2020. “This is a big change in the thought process,” he added. “This is a living example of a major transformation.”

“There were challenges, but we learnt new lessons,” the prime minister added. “We saw the spirit of Aatmanirbhar Bharat [self-reliant India] in 2020.” Modi said the people of India took many steps to become vocal for local. “Our manufacturers are also thinking about making top quality products. This will boost the efforts towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat.”

The prime minister urged citizens to find Indian alternatives for foreign products. “I appeal to you to make a list of goods of daily use and analyse which imported articles have unconsciously become part of our lives and made us their captive,” he said. “Let us find out their Indian alternatives and resolve to use products produced by the hard work of Indians.”

Modi gave the example of Jammu and Kashmir, where he claimed the government was working towards the revival of local industries. “In May this year, the Kashmiri saffron was given the Geographical Indication Tag or GI tag,” he said. “Through this, we want to make Kashmiri saffron a globally popular brand...I urge all of you to use only Kashmiri saffron.”


Ahead of his programme, Modi had asked citizens to share their inputs and ideas. He said that in all the messages he received, there was a common thread. “It is how people have appreciated the collective power and unity of the country,” he said. “We take new year resolution every year, this time, we should do it for our country.”

The prime minister also spoke of the steps taken by his government for wildlife conservation. “India is full of remarkable people who have shown great compassion toward animals,” Modi said.

He noted that India saw a 60% increase in the population of leopards between 2014 and 2018. Central Indian states, led by Madhya Pradesh, have done well in preserving habitats for leopards, the prime minister said. “Not only leopards, but population of tigers, lions and forest cover of the country have also increased,” Modi added. “It is not only due to government efforts, but several people and organisations are working towards conservation of all these things. All of them deserve our appreciation.”

Modi also lauded the efforts made by citizens to make India cleaner and free of plastic use. “From Gurugram to Karnataka, there are people whose passion towards a cleaner environment is outstanding,” he said. “Their efforts are both innovating and inspiring.”

“This year, the discussions around Covid-19 took precedence but the work towards a Swachh Bharat also went on with full vigour,” he added. “Let us not forget, keep our beaches clean. Keep our hills clean. Say no to single use plastic.”

The prime minister said he was particularly elated to see the contribution of the youth and their “can do, will do” approach. “No challenge is too big for them,” he added. “Nothing is beyond their reach.”