On the eve of India's 71st Republic Day, President Ram Nath Kovind in a televised address on Saturday shared his warm greetings to fellow citizens in India and abroad. President Kovind, in a covert reference to anti-government agitation across the country, said that "expression of political ideas" and "fighting for a cause" should be carried out under Gandhian principles.
"When fighting for a cause, people, particularly the youth, should not forget the gift of Ahimsa Gandhiji gave to humanity. Gandhiji’s talisman for deciding whether an act is right or wrong also applies to the functioning of our democracy. Government and opposition both have important roles to play. 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."
President Kovind, in his near 30-minute long address, touched on a broad range of topics like constitutional ideals, welfare schemes, ISRO's Gaganyaan mission, Tokyo Olympics, among others. "I am glad that this year, our distinguished friend, The President of Brazil, Mr. Bolsonaro will take part in our Republic Day function tomorrow," Kovind said in reference to the scheduled attendance of the Brazillian President at Sunday's celebration.
President Kovind said, "Our Constitution gave us rights as citizens of a free democratic nation, but also placed on us the responsibility to always adhere to the central tenets of our 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 the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhiji."
Noting that various welfare schemes of the government have seen public participation, President Ram Nath Kovind said the speciality of these initiatives "is the fact that citizens have voluntarily turned them into popular movements." He mentioned the success of ‘Swachchh Bharat Abhiyan’, ‘PM Ujjwala Yojana’, 'PM Saubhagya Yojana’, ‘PM Kisan Samman Nidhi’, among others. The President also stressed on water conservation and water management being given top priority.
"There is a consistent effort by the government to ensure the 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. The government has taken several concrete steps to strengthen the internal security system."
President Kovind also highlighted the ancient universities like Nalanda and Takshashila to stress that in India, "knowledge has always been considered more valuable than power, fame or riches". "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. Our endeavour is to ensure that no child or youth is denied an education. At the same time, we need to strive to reach global education standards by continuous reform of our educational systems."
President Ram Nath Kovind also appreciated the efforts of ISRO and said India is waiting for its ambitious human spaceflight mission. "ISRO is making further progress in Mission Gaganyaan, and the nation excitedly looks forward to the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme gaining further momentum this year."
President Kovind touched upon the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and said that the Indian contingent will be backed by cheers and good wishes of millions of Indians. "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."
"I have nothing but unreserved praise for our armed forces, paramilitary and internal security forces. Their sacrifices to preserve the integrity and unity of our country present a saga of unparalleled courage and discipline."