President Pratibha Patil called upon Maoists and other extremist groups to eschew violence and urged the civil society to encourage them to join the national mainstream.

In an address to the nation on the eve of the 64th Independence Day, she said, “proponents of extreme ideologies and the followers of the Left Wing Extremism must abandon their path of violence. I call on them to join [the] national efforts for growth and development. I hope that everybody, including the civic society, will come forward and move them in this direction.”

Highlighting that protracted development efforts needed in the naxal violence-affected areas, she called for promoting a spirit of conciliation through dialogue to foster the process of nation building.

“It is possible [to achieve a spirit of conciliation], when dialogue is chosen as the channel for communication. By listening to each other, respecting each other's viewpoint and understanding one another, we can address [the] issues before us.”

Ms. Patil stressed the need for “zero tolerance” towards corruption and called upon the government functionaries to work with the highest standards of public service.

“[The] achievement of goals and targets is dependent on an effective governance structure. Powers have been given to those in the government for formulating policies and for implementation on the field. It should always be remembered that this power must be used in a responsible manner.”

She expressed dismay that because of an increasing emphasis on materialism, there was a growing insensitivity towards each other in the country, social consciousness was on the decline and some social evils persisted and urged that this must change. “India is the abode of infinite values – let us strive to restore these as we go along the path of progress.”

She pointed out that Gandhiji's thoughts and his life were truly an expression of the philosophy of our ancient civilisation in which peace and harmony, non-violence and truth, human dignity and compassion were given great prominence and said the country should not forget these principles. “These are eternal values, which have sustained our nation, our society and also each one of us as individuals.”

Noting that the government has adopted inclusive growth as a pillar of its economic edifice and was “pro-actively” pursuing it, she said each and every citizen should also contribute his or her mite to the effort.

“It is [certainly] a huge task to be achieved for a billion plus population, but we should not be overwhelmed. In every village and in every colony of every town, city or metropolis, people can come forward to form groups to work for the disadvantaged.”

Pointing out that the Right to Education Act has made free and compulsory primary education for children a fundamental right, she said, secondary education also needed to be universalised. “This will provide the brain power for the nation.”.

She stressed the need to encourage research and development in all fields to ensure that the country was in the forefront of cutting edge technologies.

Emphasing that that the agricultural sector required a fresh perspective with new and radical ideas to steer it towards a second Green Revolution, she said, the sector, however, could not be looked at in isolation.