08:35 GMT +314 October 2019
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    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the Swachh Kumbh Swachh Aabhaar event organized by Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation at Ganga pandal during the Kumbh Mela festival in Allahabad on February 24, 2019

    India Has Power to Change Definition of ‘Abhinandan’ – PM Modi

    © AFP 2019 / SANJAY KANOJIA
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    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi indirectly hailed the recently-released pilot Varthaman at a construction technology expo and conference in New Delhi.

    The Sanskrit word "Abhinandan" will see its meaning changed, following the incident with the downed Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, Modi suggested on Saturday.

    "Whatever India does, the world watches it closely", Modi said, speaking at the Construction Technology India 2019 event. "India has the strength to change the meaning of words in the dictionary".

    "Abhinandan once [meant] congratulations in English. And now the meaning of Abhinandan will change. This is the strength of this country", Modi said, hinting at the Varthaman issue, according to Indian media.

    Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman and his aircraft were downed during a dogfight over the contested region of Kashmir earlier this week. Piloting his MiG-21 plane, he took down a Pakistani F-16, but was forced to eject from his plane.

    After spending two days in Pakistani custody, Islamabad released him as a gesture of goodwill in an attempt to de-escalate tensions that had sparked concern of an all-out war.

    Both nations consider the release of the pilot a diplomatic victory.

    Shortly after Varthaman was released, Modi welcomed his return via Twitter.

    "Welcome Home Wing Commander Abhinandan! The nation is proud of your exemplary courage", the Indian PM tweeted on Friday.

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    Tags:
    meaning, words, pilot, speech, Indian Air Force (IAF), Abhinandan Varthaman, Narendra Modi, India
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