He was addressing the convocation of a private university in Bihar's Rohtas district.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday asserted that the country has been making rapid economic progress and is tipped to become a developed nation by the time it celebrates the centenary of its Independence.
Addressing the convocation of a private university in Bihar's Rohtas district, Mr Singh also noted with delight that there has been an increasing appreciation of the country's cultural roots and foreigners were often using the word Bharat instead of India.
In 2014, India was at the bottom of the list of top 10 economies of the world but in a short span of time since then, the country is now among the top five, said Mr Singh, referring to the period since the Narendra Modi government has been in power.
Citing a recent report of Morgan Stanley, an American multinational investment bank and financial services company, he said, "The global financial analyst believes we will be among the top three by 2027... We must now resolve to become a developed nation by the time we celebrate 100 years of Independence in 2047." "We are being increasingly respected the world over. I have learnt that foreigners now prefer to call our country Bharat instead of India. This denotes the growing sense of pride in our cultural heritage exhibited by the common people and the political class alike," said the former BJP president.
He also recounted an anecdote of Swami Vivekananda, who had admonished a Westerner for mocking his flowing robes.
"Swami Vivekananda had said that in your country the tailor makes the man. In our country, the character makes the man," said Mr Singh, evoking applause from the crowds.
The BJP leader said that he was in full agreement with India being a secular country, but added, "By dharma, we do not mean places and forms of worship but the entire way of life. Our dharma teaches us to value all life forms. Even a poisonous snake is fed with the milk of cows." Underscoring the importance of 'sanskaar' (values), Mr Singh referred to an article by Thomas Friedman in which the American commentator had pointed out how both Indian IT giant Infosys and the global terrorist organisation Al Qaeda depended on highly educated youth.
"It was sanskaar that made all the difference. The young men who flew planes into the World Trade Centres of New York were highly skilled and qualified. On the other hand, so many youngsters have successfully transformed their start-ups into unicorns," said Mr Singh.
The veteran politician, who had worked as a lecturer of Physics in his early days, peppered his speech with many examples from Algebra and Geometry to pique the interest of the young crowd.
He also narrated a personal anecdote to emphasise the point that students continue to have respect for their teachers no matter the heights they go on to scale themselves.
"I once had the fortune to serve as the education minister of Uttar Pradesh. Once I was travelling to my home town when I spotted an old Moulvi, standing by the roadside, carrying a garland. I recalled he was the man who had taught me while I was a child. He used to be strict and did not spare the rod when needed. I stopped the car, got down and touched his feet," said Mr Singh, who also had a brief stint as chief minister of the northern state.
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