President Ram Nath Kovind addressed the nation on the eve of the 72nd Republic Day. Conveying his heartfelt wishes, President Kovind paid homage to India’s freedom fighters in his speech. He also spoke about the contribution of farmers and soldiers in the country and how the coronavirus crisis led to “Atma-nirbhar Bharat”. “It has become a movement being taken forward by the people themselves,” the President said.
Dear Fellow Citizens,
Greetings to all of you on the eve of the 72nd Republic Day of the world’s largest and most vibrant democracy. In this land of ours, enriched by diversity, with many festivals, our national festivals are celebrated by everyone with great patriotic fervour. We celebrate the national festival of the Republic Day with enthusiasm and express our respect for the national flag, and our faith in the Constitution.
This day has come to mean a lot to all Indians living within the country and abroad. Seventy-one years ago, on this very day, we the people of India adopted, enacted and gave to ourselves a unique Constitution. For all of us, then, this is the day to also pause and ponder over the core values that the Constitution propounds. These values – Justice, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity – outlined in the Preamble of our Constitution are sacred to all of us. Its abiding adherence is meant not only for those who are mandated to govern but for the people at large.
It is not without reason that the wise men and women who framed the Constitution chose to place these four terms at the very beginning of the Constitution to build the foundation on which the edifice of our democracy rests. In fact, these were the values that guided our freedom struggle. A galaxy of great leaders and thinkers like Bal Gangadhar ‘Tilak’, Lala Lajpat Rai, Mahatma Gandhi and Subhas Chandra Bose inspired our freedom struggle. They had diverse dreams of a magnificent future of the motherland, but common to their aspirations were these values: Justice, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.
I would like that we go further back into history and inquire why precisely these values guided our nation-builders. And the answer is obvious: This land and its inhabitants have cherished these ideals from the time immemorial. Justice, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity are perennial principles of our philosophy of life. They come to us from the dawn of this civilisation through an unbroken chain. It is, of course, the task of every generation to seek out the meaning of these values for its times. As the freedom fighters did in their day, so should we in our time. These key principles should light our path to development.
Dear fellow citizens,
Every Indian salutes our farmers, who have made ourvast and populous country self-reliant in food-grains and dairy products. Despite adversities of nature, numerous other challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic, our farmers sustained the agricultural production. A grateful nation is fully committed to the welfare of our farmers.
Just as our hardworking farmers ensure food security for the country, the brave soldiers of the armed forces ensure security of our national boundaries amid severest conditions. From the freezing cold at Siachen and Galwan valley in Ladakh with temperatures as low as minus 50 to 60 degree Celsius to the scorching heat in Jaisalmer with temperatures as high as 50 degree Celsius – on land, in the skies and at the vast coastal areas – our warriors are vigilant every moment. Every citizen feels proud about the bravery, patriotism and the spirit of sacrifice among our soldiers.
By their contribution to food security, national security, protection against disease and disasters and to different areas of development, our scientists have strengthened our national endeavours. From space to the farms, from educational institutions to hospitals, the community of scientists has enriched our life and work. Our scientists have been working day and night for decoding the Coronavirus and they have succeeded in developing the vaccine in record time. With this accomplishment, our scientists have added a glorious chapter of contribution to the well-being of humanity. Our scientists, along with doctors, administrators and people from other walks of life, have made major contribution in containing the virus and keeping the fatality rate lower in our country, compared to that in developed countries. Thus, all our farmers, soldiers and scientists deserve special appreciation and a grateful nation greets them on this auspicious occasion of the Republic Day.
Dear fellow citizens,
Last year, as humanity almost came to a halt in the face of a calamity of gigantic proportions, I often found myself reflecting on the central message of the Constitution. Our effective response to the pandemic would not have been possible without our Constitutional value of ‘Fraternity’. Indians have been like a close-knit family, making exemplary sacrifices to protect each other in the face of the common enemy of Coronavirus. I am thinking here of doctors, nurses, paramedics, healthcare administrators and sanitation workers who put their own lives at risk to care for Covid-19 patients. Some of them even lost their lives. Along with them, about 1.5 lakh people became victims of this pandemic. I convey my condolences to the bereaved families. Our frontline Corona-warriors were ordinary citizens who turned out to be extraordinary. When the history of this tragic chapter, which is not yet over, is written, I am confident that the future generations will behold you all for the heroic response to the crisis for which no one could have truly prepared.
Given our country’s population density, diversity of cultural traditions, natural and geographical challenges, taking precautionary measures against Covid-19 was far more difficult for us. Yet, we have managed to check the spread of the virus to a large extent.
Despite the serious calamity, we have succeeded in taking forward our activities in many spheres. The pandemic threatened to derail the young generation’s learning process, but institutions and teachers quickly adopted new technology and ensured that there was no break in education. By conducting not only free and fair but also safe elections in Bihar which has high population density and in union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh with difficulties of access and other challenges, our democracy and the Election Commission have accomplished remarkable feats. The Judiciary found help in technology and continued to function and dispense Justice. The list is long.
In order toopen up the economy without risking the lives of the people, the process of unlocking was carefully calibrated. This has proved effective and the economy has started showing indications of recovery faster than anticipated. The latest unprecedented collection of GST and India’s emergence as a most favoured destination for the foreign investment are indicative of our faster economic recovery. The government has encouraged small and medium industries to unleash entrepreneurial spirit by providing easy loans to them and helped them to come up with innovative business ideas.
Dear fellow citizens,
The adversities of the previous year have only reminded us of what we have always known deep in our hearts – that care and concern for humanity and the feeling of fraternity is what kept us together for millennia. In every sphere, Indians rose to the occasion, and put others before themselves. We Indians live and die for humanity. This Indian ideal has been expressed by the great poet Maithili Sharan Gupt in these words. In English, these sentiments can be broadly conveyed in the following words:
It is the benevolent whose glory lives on in songs eternal,
It is the generous whom the world reveres forever,
Whose spirit of oneness fills the boundless universe,
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