President Ram Nath Kovind today (Jan 25) addressed the nation on the eve of the country’s 70th Republic Day saying Republic Day is an occasion to reaffirm our commitment to liberty, fraternity and equality across our society and among all our citizens and, above all, an occasion to celebrate India and the spirit of being Indian.
Here are the highlights of his speech:
My greetings to all of you on the eve of our 70th Republic Day! This is an occasion to commemorate the values of our democracy and Republic.
Republic Day is an occasion to reaffirm our commitment to liberty, fraternity and equality across our society and among all our citizens. And above all, this is an occasion to celebrate India and the spirit of being Indian.
On October 2, we will mark the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, who led us – and who inspired oppressed societies in Asia, Africa and elsewhere – to freedom from colonial rule.
Gandhiji remains the moral compass of our Republic; his teachings are still the touchstone to measure our policies and initiatives. His 150th anniversary is not for India alone; it is a joy to be shared with the world.
On Nov 26, we will mark the 70th anniversary of the adoption of our Constitution. This enlightened and far-reaching document laid the foundations of our Republic. It was the work of men and women of principle and patriotism – the members of the Constituent Assembly.
In particular, we recall the role of Babasaheb Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, who chaired the Drafting Committee. In his honour, and in our Constitution’s honour, the nation will celebrate Constitution Day this year in an appropriate manner.
This year, the people of India – each one of us – have another responsibility: of voting in the general election and electing the 17th Lok Sabha.
The ideas and idealism of our democracy will come into full force. Once more voters will deliver their verdict and write their destiny. This year’s election will be the first when voters born in the 21st century will contribute to electing a new Lok Sabha
An election is not just a political exercise. An election is a collective call to wisdom and a collective call to action. It represents a renewal and a recommitment to the goals and hopes of a shared and egalitarian society.
An election represents the diverse and yet singular urges of the people of India. This makes the very act of voting a sacred act. Please perform this act. Who the voter chooses to vote for is up to him or her, I would only request all eligible voters to vote.
Our country is at a key juncture. Decisions and actions of today will shape the India of the remainder of the 21st century. As such, this is not just a once-in-a-generation moment – it is a once-in-a-century moment.
Connectivity is bringing us together as never before. India has been united and integrated – now it is being networked.
Leapfrogging technologies and leapfrogging enlightenment are empowering our farmers and equipping our soldiers.
No conception of India’s development can be complete without a salute to our spirit of inclusiveness – of access and opportunity for all; of an expansion and an embrace of those whom we consider our own.
India belongs to each of us and to all of us – every group and every community, every region and every identity. It belongs to every citizen and every individual.
India’s pluralism is its greatest strength and its greatest example to the world. The “Indian model” rests on a tripod of diversity, democracy and development. We cannot choose one above the other; we must have all three and we will have all three.
Best indicator of social change in India is change towards gender equity and towards providing equal opportunities, under conditions of equality, to every girl child and every woman. Given the chance, our daughters tend to not just equal but outperform our sons in the classroom.
Young women in our country are moving ahead in every field – from academics to the creative arts, from sports to the armed forces. There is no stopping and no hesitation in this process. It is the route to India’s future.
Our Republic has come a long way and we must appreciate how far successive generations have brought us. Equally, we must appreciate that our voyage is far from complete. There are still waters to cover, still gaps to fill and still tears to wipe.
We have to recalibrate our yardstick – from quantity to quality; from a literate society to a knowledge society; from a nation that has room for all segments and communities to a family that encourages and celebrates the uniqueness and potential in each person.
The recent constitutional amendment to provide special facilities for talented children from poorer families is another step to an India of our dreams – and of Gandhiji’s dreams.
Partnerships are the thread knitting together family, nation and world – and leading to the treatment of the World as a Family: Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.
Partnerships are enhanced by open communication, honest conversation and unstinted compassion. This is true with members of our families. This is also true with sections or groups that have been historically disadvantaged and whose grievances must continue to be heard and addressed.
It is important to create avenues for such conversations, even if they are inconvenient. In a society experiencing rapid change, we must be prepared for such conversations. And similarly we must be alive to the need for compassion – to those less privileged than us and to the differently-abled, for example.
Our society has shown great regard for those who devote themselves to people’s welfare and go beyond the call of duty. Well-intentioned contributions of individuals, of groups of people, of institutions, whether public or private, or for that matter of the govt, must be acknowledged and appreciated.
Our Republic’s vision is of reaching democratic goals by democratic means, pluralistic goals by pluralistic means, enlightened goals by enlightened means, compassionate goals by compassionate means – and constitutional goals by constitutional means.
(Source PIB Website)