President Pranab Mukherjee's address to the nation ahead of the 67th Republic Day was marked by a strongly-worded condemnation of terrorism, a detailed reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet initiatives and a pitch for economic reforms. Quoting a verse by Rabindranath Tagore, the President said, "The generational change has happened. Youth have moved centre-stage to take charge." Here are the key takeaways from Pranab Mukherjee's fourth speech on the eve of Republic Day-
-In an otherwise subtly-worded address, President Mukherjee was uncharacteristically forthright in his criticism of terrorism. Even as the fate of talks between India and Pakistan hangs in balance, Mukherjee remarked that 'we cannot discuss peace under a shower of bullets.' Reiterating that there is no good or bad terrorism, Mukherjee said that it 'is inspired by insane objectives, motivated by bottomless depths of hatred, instigated by puppeteers who have invested heavily in havoc through the mass murder of innocents.' The President's speech made a note of terrorism in areas around the world, including in Paris and Jakarta. "No corner can now consider itself safe from this savage monster," he said.
-The recent winter session of Parliament, which was repeatedly disrupted due to chaos and sloganeering, found an echo in President Mukherjee's speech. Even as the contentious GST Bill continues to languish in the Parliament, President Mukherjee emphasised the need for reforms and progressive legislation. "It is the bounden duty of the law makers to ensure that such legislation is enacted after due discussion and debate...Delays in decision-making and implementation can only harm the process of development." This could be a message to the Congress to give up their agitprop politics and allow Parliament to function.
-Eight years after a major recession hit world markets, the financial crisis still found a prominent mention in the President's address. "The global economy remained subdued. Unpredictability ruled the commodity markets...In such troubled environment, no one nation could be an oasis of growth," he said. Even as several regions, including Marathwada and Telangana, reeled under drought, Tamil Nadu saw unprecedented rainfall and floods. The President made a prominent mention of the continuing agrarian crisis, saying, "In 2015, we were also denied the bounty of nature...Unusual weather conditions impacted our agricultural production. Rural employment and income levels suffered."
-With pollution in the capital hitting the national headlines, the issue did not escape the attention of President Mukherjee, who noted that for change to take place, there had to be a change in the mindset of people-an idea which was behind the Delhi government's odd-even road rationing scheme. It would seem that publicity surrounding the scheme has at least succeeded in making pollution a part of the national agenda. The President said, "Multiple strategies and action at various levels is necessary. Innovative solutions of urban planning, use of clean energy and changing the mindsets of the people call for active participation of all stakeholders."
You can read the full text of the President's address here: