New Delhi: Recalling Emergency that was imposed on June 25 in 1975, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said democracy was a part of India's culture and heritage but warned people not to take it for granted.
Resuming his 'Mann ki Baat' radio programme after being elected for a second term, the Prime Minister also urged people to make water conservation a mass movement - like the Swachh Bharat mission - to overcome water shortages.
When the Emergency was imposed, people felt something had been taken away from them, he said. And it was opposed not only opposed by political parties but also by the common man, he added.
"When there is something close to us, then we underestimate its importance," Modi said.
"We overlook its amazing facts too. We take for granted the invaluable democracy we have got."
"We should keep reminding ourselves that our democracy is very great and it has a place in our veins."
Modi added: "India can say proudly that apart from rules and law, democracy is our heritage and culture."
"When Emergency was imposed, resistance against it was not limited to the political arena or politicians. There was outrage in the conscience of one and all."
"The collective torment on the loss of democracy was evident... It is difficult to savour the joy of democratic rights unless they are snatched away."
Calling the 2019 Lok Sabha elections -- which brought him back to power with a thumping majority -- the "largest democratic election ever held in the world", he said its sheer scale made every Indian proud.
He said the number of Indians who voted in the Lok Sabha election was more than the entire population of the US, "close to double the figure". It also exceeded the entire population of Europe, he noted.
Modi paid tributes to teachers, officials and security forces for making the election a success.
The Prime Minister also stressed on the need to save water -- and also read books.
"There is no one way to conserve water. In different parts, different methods are adopted but the aim is to conserve every drop."
He sought ideas about water conservation. "If you know about individuals or NGOs working on water, do share details about them."
He said he read about the collective efforts in Tamil Nadu's Vellore where 20,000 women came together to revive the Nag river.
"I believe that many such attempts are being made and we can turn the impossible to possible when we are together and strive with collective resolve."
Modi also appealed to people to make book reading a habit and reiterated that bouquets should be replaced by books as gifts.
"In today's digital world and in the time of 'Google Guru', take some time out and devote it to books."
He spoke glowingly about 'Mann ki Baat'.
"The programme conveys that there is no dearth of inner fortitude, strength and talent within our countrymen. The need of the hour is to synergize those strengths and talents, to provide opportunities, to implement them."
He said that in the last five years he got a lot of letters and phone calls during 'Mann Ki Baat'. But, "I have not come across a single instance where somebody asked for something for personal gain".