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|December 28, 1998||
Keep off foreign goods, boost swadeshi, Fernandes exhorts youth
Defence Minister George Fernandes has called for a swadeshi movement abandoning foreign-made goods but said that the government will not compromise when it comes to selecting goods for national security and deterrent.
Addressing a gathering of over 15,000 students at the golden jubilee national conference of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarti Parishad in Bombay on December 24, the defence minister said swadeshi means patriotism and ''we should avoid using foreign goods wherever and whenever we can''.
However, in strategic areas like security, technology and other development issues, ''our options will be open and we will not hesistate in acquiring foreign equipment,'' he said.
Fernandes lambasted the P V Narasimha Rao government and the then finance minister Dr Manmohan Singh for hastily opening up the economy and allowing foreign companies and multinationals to reap benefits from India.
''Wherever possible we should avoid using foreign goods,'' he said and recalled that he threw Coca-Cola out in 1977 when he was in the government. He expressed concern that only three multinationals are controlling the soft drinks market in the country.
He said that in 1991, before opening up the economy, the Rao government never discussed the issue before Parliament, but took the decision on its own and said that liberalisation and opening up was irreversible. They have betrayed and conspired with the nation by doing so, he lamented.
The defence minister said that the country, especially its youth, should adopt swadeshi and try to avoid foreign goods. He repeatedly made it clear that in terms of security issues, where India needs foreign goods, it will not hesistate in acquiring or purchasing them.
On the Pokhran II nuclear tests, he said, ''We are peace loving and do not intend to attack anyone or use the nuclear bombs. The tests have been carried out for deterrant purposes.''
He also criticised the US governement for bullying and pressure tactics and for its recent attack on Iraq. The world was aware about the casualties of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in 1945.
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