President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday said the country is at a pivotal moment and should not let contentious issues and extraneous debates distract us when we are at the cusp of achieving many of our long-awaited goals. Universal access to electricity, elimination of open defecation, homelessness and extreme poverty is achievable and attainable, Kovind said in his address to the nation on the eve of India’s 72nd Independence Day.
The President recalled Mahatma Gandhi’s most ‘noble mantra’ on the power of non-violence being greater than the power of violence.
“The power to stay your hand is far greater than the power to strike with your hand and hinsa (violence) has no place in the society. The weapon of ahinsa (non-violence) was the most effective weapon Gandhiji gave us. Like his other teachings, it was rooted in the ancient wisdom of India and yet has a resonance in the 21st century and in our daily lives,” Kovind said in the backdrop of several lynching and mob violence incidents.
Kovind said freedom was a broader concept- constant and relentless endeavour and adding we could contribute in the manner of a freedom fighter by expanding the frontiers of freedom and of opportunity for our fellow Indians.
“Freedom is a broader concept. It is not fixed and finite. Freedom is a constant and relentless endeavour. Even decades after 1947, each one of us can contribute in the manner of a freedom fighter. We can do so if we expand the frontiers of freedom and of opportunity for our fellow Indians and our beloved India,” Kovind said.
The President emphasised that citizens who wait in a queue for their turn and respect the rights of those standing in front of them live up to the principles of our freedom struggle.
“This is a very small effort. Let us make it a part of our lives,” the president said.
The President said that the decisions we take today, the foundations we lay, the projects we undertake, the social and economic investments we make – whether for the immediate future or for the medium term – will determine where we stand.
“The pace of change and development in our country is rapid and appreciable. And as per our civilisational traditions, it is driven by our people, by civil society and by a partnership between citizen and government. Its focus, again in keeping with the essence of Indian thought, is on a better life for the less fortunate,” Kovind noted.
Emphasising that women have special role in the society, Kovind said the expansion of freedom in our country in many senses amounts to the expansion of freedom for women in our country.
“This is true whether we see them as mothers, sisters, daughters or simply as women who are entitled to a life of their choosing – and deserving of the opportunity and the security to fulfil their potential.”
The president said women could do this as sheet-anchors of our families or as absolutely critical entrants to our institutions of higher learning and our workforce.
‘The choice is theirs; as a nation and as a society we must ensure that they have the right and the ability to exercise that choice,” the President said.