April 10, 2015  (Agencies) :  At a time when India is witnessing increased activities of right-wing groups, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said his government will defend the rights of citizens of all faiths.Mr. Modi, during his address at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, also asked the global community to dwell deep on culture and religion to overcome the rising tide of extremism as well as violence.“We will defend and protect the rights and liberty of every citizen. We will ensure that every citizen, of every faith, culture and creed has an equal place in our society; belief in our future; and the confidence to pursue it,” he said.Noting that culture remains a source of conflict in many parts of the world, Mr. Modi said it must connect and not divide and that it should be a bridge to greater respect and understanding between people.“We must turn deep into our cultures; traditions; and religions; to overcome the rising tide of extremism, violence, and divisions across the world,” said the Prime Minister.The Modi government is under attack from opposition parties as well as some minority community groups for not being able to curb the activities like ‘Ghar Wapsi’ (conversions) by RSS-backed groups.Calling climate change a pressing global challenge, the Prime Minister who arrived late on Thursday,

said his government has set a target of adding 175,000 MW of clean and renewable energy in the next seven years.His remarks come ahead of a crucial UN meet on climate change to be held here later this year. Mr. Modi also noted that the foundation of India’s Constitution rests on a fundamental principle of the peace and prosperity of all.“The strength of the nation is determined by the joined hands of every citizen; and, real progress is measured through empowerment of the weakest,” he said.“We have built a modern state in an ancient land, with a timeless tradition of openness and co-existence and, a society of extraordinary diversity,” Modi told the gathering which included a large number of NRIs.“This has been our creed since we assumed office nearly a year ago,” he said.He underlined that “culture must connect, not divide, our world” and that it should be a bridge to greater respect and understanding between people.The Prime Minister, while outlining the steps taken by his government for the development of the country, said “We shall judge our progress not just by the cold statistics of growth, but by the warm glow of belief and hope on human faces. For me, it means many things.“Invoking the Indian Constitution, he underlined that its foundation rests on a fundamental principle “the peace and prosperity of all is indivisible from the welfare of the individual.”
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