"Dear friends, we have to make our own efforts. It is not good for any community to extend their arms and seek help for a living," said Modi while addressing a handful of Muslim businessmen during the inaugural function of a three-day conclave on "business harmony" organised by a socio-economic organisation --- Ummat --- that helps over 1200 Muslim businessmen network with each other in the state
"We will have to stand on our own feet. Our kids have to become job-creators and not job-seekers," Modi said on the opening day of three-day event that was meant to bring together Hindu and Muslim businessmen in Gujarat and bridge the "trust" gap existing between them.
"I have felt since childhood, than even the poorest of the poor kid of a Muslim, is born talented. For instance, they make or repair locks...They have the skill, but do not have the opportunity.We want to give them the opportunity," Modi told the 150-strong gathering, mostly consisting of participants and stall-attendants at the conclave which is being supported by the Gujarat government.
Gujarat's chief minister also floated an idea "to map the top 10-12 talents" inherent in the youths from the Muslim community. "Such talented people from the Muslim community should be brought together. They will not only stand on their own feet, but will also provide new addition to the productivity of Gujarat," Modi said adding that while suggesting ways and means to bring the Muslim youth in to the "mainstream".
Modi also cited several examples of Muslims in Gujarat who made a name of their own. Apart from the traditional kite-making and textile printing sectors that employ a number of Muslim artisans, he narrated the efforts of an old gentleman from Dharampur in Valsad district who used to make musical instruments, and a young farmer Ismail Sheru from Banaskantha who currently holds the record of maximum potato cultivation over a hectare.
"In Gujarat, during the last ten years, we have literally lived the four different 'mantras' of security, equality, prosperity and equity," he said while simultaneously stating that efforts should be made to enhance the skills of Muslim women entrepreneurs and provide them a chance to be "part of equality and progress" in the state.
The BJP's PM candidate also talked about how the image of Gujarat has changed from being a "trader's state" to being a "manufacturing hub". He also mentioned how Kutch district, having the highest Muslim population in the state, has 1732 industrial units owned by Muslims who directly contribute to the growth of the state.
Stating that every section of the society has to be taken along on the path of progress, Modi said, " BJP needs power. But we need power to empower people," he said.
Some of the participants at the business conclave appreciated Modi government's effort to support to the first-of-its-kind event held in the state to promote "business harmony".
"The chief minister talked about a lot of micro-issues and the various opportunities. He has given a number of tips. It is now for the community to make a difference," said Mustafa Saasa, a Gujarat-born businessmen who is currently based in UAE.
"Muslims should not live in history. We should live in the present and look forward to the future," Saasa said when asked about the communal history of the state.
Similar views were aired by Zafar Sareshwala, a prominent Muslim businessmen from Gujarat, " Being victims in Gujarat is nothing new for Muslims. But since last ten years, there has not been a single incidence of a curfew being imposed anywhere the state. There is definitely a softness among Muslims towards Modi."
Federico Tauber, president of Tameer Group from UAE said, "The chief minister has encouraged us to invest in Gujarat. We see a lot of potential in the state."