Amma, the Love that Transforms: Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Inauguration of Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences in 1998

Inaugural speech of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Sri Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the occasion

Her Holiness Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, His Excellency the Governor of Kerala Justice Sukhdev Singh Kang and other distinguished guests on the dais, sisters and brothers,

Keralathile priyapetta sahodarisahodaranmare,
ningalkente sneham niranja koopu kai.
കേരളത്തിലെ പ്രിയപ്പെട്ട സഹോദരി സഹോദരന്മാരെ,
നിങ്ങള്ക്കെന്റെ സ്നേഹം നിറഞ്ഞ കൂപ്പുകൈ

My dear brothers and sisters of Kerala, please accept my affectionate greetings.


This is my first visit to your beautiful state after my government assumed office in New Delhi. I am happy that my first official program itself has an auspicious and humanitarian ring around it.

I am indeed honoured to inaugurate the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre here in Kochi today. My sense of being honoured is greatly enhanced by the fact that this institute bears the name of Mata Amritanandamayi Deviji.

“Amrita” means that which is deathless. This has been the subject of perennial quest for philosophers and medical practitioners alike. In India, however, our sages evolved a holistic concept of life that erased the boundary of death.

The secret of achieving this was the healthy way of living — with health itself understood in its physical, biological, mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions. Our medical science was evolved on the foundation of this understanding.

Today, more and more thinking people in India and the world over are veering around to this understanding of life and health. This is thanks to the tireless efforts of modern-day sages like Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, who is affectionately called “Amma” by millions of Her devotees.

When Amma shared Her ideas regarding the 21st Century at the Interfaith Conference on the occasion of the golden jubilee celebrations of the United Nations, She called the coming century the Age of Meditation. {news}

Her message was bold: She appealed to our technological world to take a 180-degree turn and go within and explore the inner world over the next few years. This can happen only if the new generation becomes convinced that the inner transformation of the individual is the only lasting solution to the modern world’s social problems.

The world today needs solid proof that our human values are useful, that such qualities as compassion, selflessness, renunciation and humility have the power to create a great and prosperous society. Amma’s work in the field of spiritualism, as well as social service, provides us with the much-needed proof.

That is why I call this a historic event. She is showing us the value of the right combination of spiritual ideas and practical wisdom. She has already performed the most intricate heart operation on thousands of young men and women, removing the blockages of indifference and allowing the free flow of love.

She has been able to motivate a young band of educated professional men and women to work selflessly and with great dedication for the betterment of society, as the path that will lead them towards Self-Realization.

In this hospital, we find the best medical facilities available anywhere in the world and a dedicated team of expert doctors from various countries joining hands to keep the hearts of the least among the poor and meek going strong.

Amma is the source of spiritual inspiration and practical guidance for this magnificent project. This multi-specialty hospital is truly the pride of Kerala. It is a tribute to Amma’s grand and noble vision.

But it is equally a tribute to the dedicated and selfless labour of thousands of people from all over the globe who came together to transform a grand vision into reality. I extend my hearty congratulations to all of them.

For many centuries, India stood as an ideal for the world in material riches, scientific thought and spiritual values. However, the motivating force for growth today has changed. Now it is to create a maximum material benefit even at the cost of health and human happiness.

Even though many nations are flourishing materially, the quality of life has generally deteriorated. This has happened in India, too. Over the past hundred years, our material comforts may have multiplied a thousand fold. However, along with this, mental stress and worries have greatly increased.

The health profile of today’s India present’s a unique paradox. On the one hand, the basic healthcare needs of the majority are generally neglected. Even those diseases that lend themselves to easy preventative care — such as diarrhoea, blindness, etc. — have assumed chronic dimensions. This is especially so in urban slums and rural, hilly and remote areas.

On the other hand, more and more people among India’s rich classes are beginning to suffer from health problems that are similar to those prevailing in the rich nations of the world. In the global consumerist culture we are now living in, every new means to satisfy one desire gives birth to 10 new desires.

Our society is required to effectively address the health problems of both classes at the national, local and personal levels. As far as my government is concerned, we have stated in the National Agenda for Governance that social infrastructure development will receive a high priority. Healthcare being a vital area of the country’s social infrastructure, our policies and programs will adequately reflect our concern for creating a healthy society.

Today I do not wish to speak in detail about what the government intends to do in this area. I would, however, like to emphasize that the critical factor that makes a difference between a successful health policy and an unsuccessful one is not financial resources.

It is true that the Government needs to allocate more resources to this sector, especially to strengthening primary and preventative healthcare. But, frankly, the main problem is not money but management.

Are we using the existing resources most efficiently? Are the results properly monitored? Are the national, state and local-level goals being achieved in the stipulated time? Are periodic corrective measure taken if found necessary? Does our public healthcare system place the patients and people at the centre of its concerns?

These are the questions I would like to ask our health administrators to constantly ask themselves and find satisfactory answers. But these are also the questions that I would like our healthcare practitioners in the private sector to address. We cannot think of the public healthcare system and the private healthcare system to have divergent objectives. The two must supplement and complement each other.

This is where I see a unique model for both the public and private healthcare systems in the hospital project inspired by Her Holiness Amma. What makes this an exemplary model is the missing link of “seva” or the spirit of service.

When all our institutions, including hospitals and primary health centres, begin to work with the spirit of service, India will greatly gain in esteem not only in the eyes of Indians, but also in the eyes of the world. We should, therefore, be grateful to Amma for spreading the message of service.

Amma’s emphasis on compassionate service is also visible in the other scheme that I have the honour of inaugurating. Today the keys to the first 5,000 houses for the homeless are being distributed here, and I am sure that Amma will accomplish Her target of 25,000 houses within the next five years. As a Member of Parliament, I am also a homeless person. I keep on moving from one house to another, knowing not when a permanent house will be allotted to me.

I am told that all the ashram residents and household devotees of Amma have been actively involved in the construction of these houses for the poor. Their pure love, which is not limited to any particular community or religion, has made these houses into true temples of love. The most valuable dividend these projects declare is the inner joy and sense of satisfaction shared by everyone associated with them.

Here, again, there is a lesson for us in the government and in the private sector. My government has set the goal of facilitating the construction of 20 lakh new housing units each year. This, however, is not the responsibility of government agencies alone. If we work with the sense of dedication and determination that volunteers here have shown in their housing project, I am sure that we will easily reach the ultimate goal of “Housing for All” in the next 10 years.

In this, my first official visit to Kerala, I cannot but express my happiness and appreciation at the many marvellous achievements of your state, especially in the fields of health, education, arts and culture. The entire country should learn from Kerala’s outstanding success in eradicating illiteracy, especially female illiteracy, greatly reducing infant mortality and improving mother and child health.

All this could not have been possible without a long tradition of progressivism and social reform. In the past, the great masters like Adi Sankaracharya, Chattambi Swami and Narayana Guru have sown the seeds of social reformation through spiritual means in this holy land known after Parasurama. In Amma, we find those seeds sprouting, growing and spreading their branches far and wide aspiring to touch the stars.

The years to come, I believe, will certainly witness a momentous transformation brought about by Amma in the socio-economic scenario of Kerala and perhaps in the whole nation. That will be the fulfilment of my participation in today’s function.

I appeal to all my countrymen to preserve and further strengthen our sense of unity and self-confidence. Let us all work with discipline, dedication and patriotism in our respective spheres of life. In the short run, we should be prepared to face some hardships. I have no doubt however that India will overcome the present challenges and emerge as a more prosperous, vibrant and stronger nation whose voice will be duly heard in the international arena.

I seek the blessings of Mataji and thank you very much indeed. Namaskar.