Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday greeted the nation on the beginning of Ramadan, the holy month when Muslims keep a dawn-to-dusk fast, and hoped that it enhances the spirit of peace and harmony in the country which is "proud" to have people from all faiths and communities.
Addressing the nation on his monthly radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat', Modi said, "On the start of Ramzan, I convey my greetings to people across the world. India's diversity is our strength. We are proud that people from all faiths live in India in a harmonious manner."
He hailed the fact that in India, believers and athiests as well as "those believing in idol worship" and "those opposing the idol worship" co-exist peacefully.
Modi said that ultimately, all religions, faiths, ideologies or traditions give the message of peace, unity and goodwill.
Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, ends with Eid ul-Fitr and normally depending on the calendar it lasts either 29 or 30 days, with sighting of the new moon as the indicator.
He noted that prayers, spirituality and charity are accorded the highest priority during the month of fasting.
"We Indians are very lucky that our ancestors have created such a tradition that today India and and its 1.25 billion people can take pride in the fact that people from all communities and faith are available here," Modi said.
"We have adapted ourselves to the myriad kinds of ideologies, different ways of worshipping and all types of traditions and imbibed the art of co-existential living," he added.
He expressed confidence that the holy month would be helpful in further strengthening these values of peace, unity and goodwill.
Modi praises environmentalist's efforts to clean Mumbai's Versova beach
The Prime Minister praised environmentalist Afroz Shah and his efforts towards cleaning Mumbai's dirtiest Versova's beach.
"I heartily congratulate Afroz Shah and his entire team for their efforts in cleaning Mumbai's Versova beach," Modi said in his 'Mann ki Baat' radio address.
He lauded the effort of Shah, saying that he started cleaning Versova in October 2015 and later it turned into a people's movement.
Versova beach has now been transformed into a clean and beautiful beach, he said.
UN Environment Programme awarded Shah with the "Champion of the Earth" Award. He is the first Indian to receive this honour.
The Prime Minister also lauded the people as well as local administration of Jammu and Kashmir's Reasi district for making it free from open defecation under the Swachch Bharat Campaign.
PM appreciates surveys on his govt's performance
Modi welcomed the analyses being done in various media fora about the performance of his three-year-old government, saying "constructive criticism" strengthens the democracy.
He said some opinion polls and surveys have appreciated his government's work, some have supported it while some others have highlighted the drawbacks.
Appreciating this exercise being conducted over the last one month in the run-up to completion of his government's three years on May 26, he said he believes that in a democracy, the government should be answerable. "Constructive criticism strengthens the democracy. For a lively democracy, such exercises are immensely important," the prime minister said.
He noted that the surveys have assessed in detail his government's performance on all fronts and said it was a "great exercise".
The prime minister said he believes that in a democracy, a government must present its report card to the people.
"Three years back, you (people) had given me the responsibility of the 'pradhan sevak' (prime servant). There have been several surveys and opinion polls. I consider this entire exercise healthy," Modi said.
"I thank those who have given critical and important feedback.... I greatly value such exercises... It provides an opportunity to correct the weaknesses and the drawbacks that may be there," Modi said.
From the result of these surveys, the government can take lessons and move ahead, he added.
Modi, who led the BJP to a massive victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, was sworn-in as the prime minister on May 26 that year.