Amid the backdrop of protests against the new citizenship law, President Ram Nath Kovind, on the eve of the 71st Republic Day, urged the public, particularly youths, to remain non-violent when fighting for a cause and stressed on the need to "hold on to constitutional methods" of achieving social and economic objectives.
In his customary Republic Day address to the nation, Kovind, who did not directly refer to anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests, remembered Mahatma Gandhi's gift of 'ahimsa' (non-violence) to humanity and said that his talisman for deciding whether an act is right or wrong "applies to the functioning of our democracy"
Nothing that the youths, empowered by technology, were actively participating in the national discourse, he said that this decade will be one heralding the the rise of "New India and a new generation of Indians".
"We are now in the third decade of the twenty-first century. This will be the decade of the rise of New India and a new generation of Indians. More and more of those born in this century are participating in the national discourse. With the passage of time, we are gradually losing living links with our great freedom struggle, but there is no reason to worry about the continuity of the beliefs that guided it," he said.
Kovind said though the Constitution gave rights to all the citizens of a free democratic nation, but also placed responsibility to always adhere to the central tenets of democracy: justice, liberty, equality and fraternity.
"It becomes easier for us to follow these constitutional ideals, if we keep in mind the life and values of the Father of our Nation. By doing so, we will be adding a meaningful dimension to our celebrations of 150th birth anniversary of Gandhiji," he added.
"It should be part of our daily routine to introspect on Gandhiji's message of truth and non-violence, which has become all the more necessary in our times," he said in his televised speech.
Noting that modern India comprise of three organs — legislature, executive and judiciary — Kovind said that the power to shape the future of the country ultimately lay in the people's hands. "'We the people are the prime movers of the Republic. With us, the people of India rests the real power to decide our collective future," he said.
Stressing that both the government and the Opposition have "important roles to play", the president said "while giving expression to their political ideas both must move forward in tandem to ensure that development of the country and welfare of its people are promoted consistently".
Making a mention of the achievements of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), he said they were making further progress in Mission Gaganyaan. "... The nation excitedly looks forward to the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme gaining further momentum this year."
Noting that access to health and education are "the foundation of good governance", he said the country has achieved considerable success in both these sectors.
Speaking about the welfare schemes launched by the government, Kovind highlighted the ‘Swachchh Bharat Abhiyan' which has achieved "astounding success in such a short time". He said the same spirit could be seen in other endeavours and added "be it giving up cooking fuel subsidy or pushing digital payments, the common man has made the government programmes his own, making them truly effective."
He said the 'Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana' is a matter of pride, as the target of 8 crore beneficiaries has been achieved. "With this, those in need have access to clean fuel."
About the farmers, he said under 'Pradhanmantri Kisan Samman Nidhi', more than 14 crore families have become entitled to receive minimum annual income of Rs 6,000 which has enabled farmers who feed the nation to live a life of dignity. He expressed hope that schemes like 'Jal Jeevan Mission', aimed at water conservation, will soon take form of a popular movement.
He said along with the welfare of needy, every policy initiative of the government is guided by the 'nation-first' principle and there is a consistent effort by the government to ensure overall development of each and every part of the country – be it Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh, the states in the North East or our Islands in the Indian Ocean.
He said the educational system emerged as path of empowerment after a long colonial rule. "Even though the development of our educational institutions commenced soon after Independence, in an environment of scarcity of resources, our achievements in the field of education have followed a remarkable trajectory," he said, adding "our endeavour is to ensure that no child or youth is denied education. At the same time, we need to strive to reach global education standards by continuous reform of our educational systems.
The president also spoke about the upcoming Olympic games and said a new generation of players and athletes has brought laurels for the nation in a wide variety of sports in recent years.
"This is also the year of Tokyo Olympics. While India has traditionally done well in a number of sports, the new generation of players and athletes has brought laurels for the nation in more and more varieties of sports in recent years," he said. "At Olympics 2020, the Indian contingent will be backed by cheers and good wishes of millions of Indians," the President said in his speech.
He said as India and Indians march forward, the country remains committed to engaging the global community to build a secure and prosperous future. "The idea of the world as a large well-knit family, captured in our message of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' (The world is one family), strengthens our relations with other nations. We have been sharing our democratic ideals and the fruits of our development with the entire world," he said.
The president concluded his speech by quoting BR Ambedkar: "If we wish to maintain democracy not merely in form, but also in fact, what must we do? The first thing in my judgment we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives."
"These words have always lighted our path. These words will continue to show us the way ahead to new glories," said the president.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Jan 25, 2020 21:50:21 IST