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India believes in peace but can give fitting reply to any attempt of aggression, says Kovind

President Ram Nath Kovind addresses the nation on the eve of the 74th Independence Day, in New Delhi.  

President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday said India believes in peace but is capable of giving a befitting response to any attempt of aggression as was displayed during the Galwan Valley clashes when “some in our neighbourhood tried to carry out the misadventure of expansion”.

In his address to the nation on the eve of the 74th Independence Day, President Kovind did not name China but hailed Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives while fighting Chinese troops on the Ladakh border for “national pride”.

The President noted that as the coronavirus has demolished the “illusion’ that humans are the masters of nature, and talked about the various lessons of 2020.

He noted that Independence Day celebrations would be restrained this year but complimented the Narendra Modi government in “anticipating the tremendous challenge, responding effectively and well in time”.

Full text of the address

Commenting on the construction of the temple at Shri Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya, he said it was “a moment of pride for all” and complimented citizens for their “patience, restraint and the unflinching trust in the judiciary”.

Speaking about the self-reliance or ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative launched by Prime Minister Modi, Mr. Kovind said India’s self-reliance means being self-sufficient without alienating or creating distance from the world. India will continue to engage with the world economy while maintaining its identity, he said.

“The world now realises what our sages had said long ago: the global community is but one family: Vasudhaiv kutumbakam. However, even while the world community needs to fight together against the greatest challenge before humanity [COVID-19], some in our neighbourhood tried to carry out their misadventure of expansion,” he said without naming China.

“Our brave soldiers laid down their lives defending our borders. Those worthy sons of Bharat Mata lived and died for national pride. The entire nation salutes the martyrs of Galwan Valley... Their bravery in combat has demonstrated that while we believe in peace, we are also capable of giving a befitting response to any attempt of aggression. We are proud of the members of our Armed Forces, paramilitary forces and police personnel who protect the borders, and ensure our internal security,"he added.

Talking about the COVID-19 pandemic, the President said the nation is indebted to doctors, nurses and other health workers who have been “the frontline of COVID warriors and many of whom have lost their lives in fighting the virus”.

“For a country so vast and diverse with high population density, meeting this challenge requires super-human efforts. All State governments took measures in accordance with local circumstances. People also supported whole-heartedly. With our committed efforts, we have succeeded in containing the magnitude of the pandemic and saving a large number of lives. This is worth emulating by the wider world,” he said. 

The President complimented the government for introducing the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana to “enable crores of people to earn their livelihood and mitigate the impact of job-loss, dislocation and disruption caused by the pandemic”.

“The needy are being given free food grains, so that no family goes hungry. The largest free food distribution programme in the world has been extended till the end of November 2020 to provide succour to about 80 crore people every month,” he said, adding that daily wage earners have been the hardest hit by the pandemic.

Talking about the lessons of 2020, the President said it was still not too late for humanity to correct its course and live in harmony with nature and ensure “that 21st century is remembered as the century when humanity put aside differences and collaborated to save the planet”.

“Coronavirus does not recognise any artificial divisions created by human society. This reinforces the belief that we need to rise above all manmade differences, prejudices, and barriers,” he said while referring to the second lesson from the pandemic.

Augmenting public health infrastructure and the need to accelerate developments in science and technology are the other lessons.

“During the lockdown and subsequent unlocking, information and communication technology has emerged as an effective tool for governance, education, business, office work and social connect. It has helped meet the twin objectives of saving lives and resumption of activities,” he said, highlighting how the judiciary and even the Rashtrapati Bhavan had been using a virtual interface to discharge their functions.

The President referred to the anxieties among students because of closure of educational institutions but urged them to work on their dreams as difficult times will not last, and mentioned the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 as a right step toward youth empowerment.

“When India won freedom, many predicted that our experiment with democracy will not last long. They saw our ancient traditions and rich diversity as hurdles in democratisation of our polity. But we have always nurtured them as our strengths that make the largest democracy in the world so vibrant. India has to continue playing its leading role for the betterment of humanity,” Mr. Kovind said while complimenting citizens for maturely dealing with the pandemic, and urging them act maturely and responsibly in future.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2020 1:36:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/president-ram-nath-kovind-address-to-the-nation-on-the-eve-of-the-74th-independence-day/article32356600.ece

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