(At the Dedication Ceremony of Sokhada Village rebuilt with the support of GNFC. Rajkot, April 20, 2002) the earthquake 26th on January 2001 had ruined the whole state.
The whole world was worried about our state. Those who had lost everything were completely at sea about how to get out of this mess.
However, it is a miracle the way Gujarat has come out of the whole disaster within a year.
The world will never fathom this miracle until they understand the inner strength of Gujarat.
There is a unique strength in the people of this state, and one needs to have a remarkable thinking to understand it.
On the morning of the 26th, when the earthquake occurred, I was in Delhi.
I reached Ahmedabad by special plane in the afternoon, and I was in Kutch the very next day.
There were many rescue teams that had flown in from across the world to serve and help the earthquake victims.
During my tour of inspection, I asked the foreign volunteers if they had any difficulty, or if they needed any other help.
We started chatting and they told me that they had been to help victims at many disaster sites but they had never seen such spirit and extraordinary strength among the affected people before. They shared an experience.
A high- rise building had collapsed.
They had come to know with the help of dog squads that there were some people alive under the debris.
While they were struggling to get the survivors out, a youth of around 27-28 years, who appeared to be a volunteer himself, requested them to accompany him.
He took them to a place where the dead bodies of a woman and a small girl in the debris, and informed the rescuers that those bodies were of his wife and only daughter.
The very next moment, he looked at them and asked, “You look exhausted. Would you have some tea?”
The foreign team member said, “It is hard for me to imagine a young man of 28 years whose wife and loving daughter are killed, asking us for tea and thinking of our comfort.
The society that has such strength will never take much time to overcome any disaster that befalls it.”
There are innumerable such experiences about our spirit and it is only due to this spirit and the power it gives us that we can move ahead.
When Gujarat was shattered by the earthquake, people blamed nature for this disastrous calamity.
Of course, it is impossible to fill the gap for those who have lost their beloved family members.
But now when one sees the newly constructed cities, one feels that God destructs only to create something better.
It is, after all, possible to find a way towards development even in the midst of horrific destruction and
Gujarat has set the best example of it. These new buildings are the symbol of the spirit, strength and hard work of the people of Gujarat.
They are the monuments that tell the saga of strength and duty.
They tell the tales of the courage that lights up lamps in the darkness.
This is the power of our society.
The buildings are certainly made by the engineers, masons and carpenters with cement, bricks and wood, but a mere building cannot be called home.
It is only the warmth of love and unity among family members who will inhabit the house that makes it a home.