Ram Nath Kovind refers to Galwan Valley clash in Independence Day speech, says India can give 'befitting reply' to aggression
The president also said the country is indebted to doctors, nurses and other health workers who have been on the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 pandemic
President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday addressed the nation on the eve of Independence Day, and said that doctors, nurses, and other health workers are "national heroes" in the fight against COVID-19. He also referred to the Galwan Valley clash, and without naming China, said that India is capable of giving a "befitting response to aggression".
"The nation is indebted to doctors, nurses and other health workers who have been continuously on the forefront of our COVID-19 fight. Unfortunately, many of them have lost their lives battling the pandemic. They are our national heroes," the president said in a televised address.
He also said that it was "very reassuring" that the Centre had tackled the pandemic "effectively and well in time".
"For a country so vast and diverse with high population density, meeting this challenge requires super-human efforts," he added.
This year, he said, the Independence Day celebrations at Delhi's Red Fort is bound to be "restrained" due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking about the conflict with China in Ladakh's Galwan Valley on 15 June in which 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives, Kovind said, "Even while the world community needs to fight together against the greatest challenge before humanity, some in our neighbourhood tried to carry out their misadventure of expansion."
"Those worthy sons of 'Bharat Mata' lived and died for national pride. The entire nation salutes the martyrs of Galwan Valley. Every Indian feels grateful to their family members," he said.
"Their bravery in combat has demonstrated that while we believe in peace, we are also capable of giving a befitting response to any attempt of aggression. We are proud of the members of our armed forces, paramilitary forces and police personnel who protect the borders, and ensure our internal security."
Kovind also spoke about the 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' initiative launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sought to allay fears of foreign investors saying India's self-reliance means being self-sufficient without alienating or creating distance from the world, with which it would continue to engage.
Kovind also paid tribute to freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi. "We are fortunate that Mahatma Gandhi became the guiding light of our freedom movement. As much a saint as a political leader, he was a phenomenon that could have happened only in India," he said.
The president added that construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya "was indeed a moment of pride for all". The ground-breaking ceremony for the temple was performed on 5 August.
"People of the country maintained restraint and patience for a long time and reposed unflinching trust in the judicial system. The issue of Ram Janmabhoomi was resolved through judicial process."
All concerned parties and the people respectfully accepted the verdict of the Supreme Court and displayed before the world, Indian ethos of peace, non-violence, love and harmony, he added.
Kovind also lauded the Centre's “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana” and repatriation exercise for Indians stranded abroad amid pandemic.
Kovind praised the Centre's new 'National Education Policy’ saying that it "spells a long term vision with far-reaching impact, and that it will strengthen the culture of ‘inclusion’, ‘innovation’ and ‘institution’ in education."
"Imparting education in the mother tongue has been given emphasis in order to help young minds grow spontaneously... It is a right step in this direction," he added.
In conclusion, Kovind said, "We have learnt some tough lessons in the year 2020. The invisible virus has demolished the illusion that human being is the master of nature. I believe, it is still not too late for humanity to correct its course and live in harmony with nature."
He was also quoted by Hindustan Times as saying, "Like climate change, this epidemic has also raised the consciousness that the destiny of each member of the world community is interlinked. My belief is that ‘human-centered collaboration’ is more important in the present context than ‘meaning-centered inclusion’."
With inputs from agencies
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