President Pratibha Patil on Sunday said India was located in a region that harboured the epicentre of terrorism, and appealed to the international community to take decisive and united action against the scourge.
"As a responsible nation, the conduct of our foreign relations since Independence has been to promote peace and development. We are, however, located in a region which harbours the epicentre of terrorism," the president said in her address to the nation on Sunday on the eve of Republic Day.
"We have been victims of terrorism over the last two decades. The international community must take decisive and united action against terrorism, which poses a grave threat to the stability of the world," the president maintained.
Without naming Pakistan, Patil said: "No country can afford to take an ambivalent attitude in this fight. Arguments that terrorism is being perpetuated by independent actors are self-defeating and cannot be accepted. Countries must own up their responsibilities, as must the international community in defeating terrorism."
Referring to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai and in different states, she said: "The concerted and well-planned attacks in Mumbai stand out as an example of a ruthless operation undertaken to damage the confidence of India. The nation was outraged. However, contrary to what the terrorists had hoped, the event saw the emergence of a unified and strong voice from India."
She cited the recent assembly elections, which were held in the shadow of the Mumbai attacks, and said that a large number of people in the states, including in Jammu and Kashmir, came out to vote and "reaffirmed the faith of the people of India in a democratic polity".
"One of the priority tasks faced by us is to secure the nation against terrorist and fundamentalist elements. The government has put in place a new agency to deal with terrorist threats and has also brought in legislative changes. A determined, coordinated and concerted approach by all agencies to tackle this menace would be necessary."
She said the country needed technology which is one up on that used by the terrorists, who were increasingly using sophisticated equipment to carry out their agenda.
The president expressed concern over the Satyam scandal, without naming the company, and stressed on clear principles of accountability in corporate governance. "Some companies that over-extended or functioned in an unethical manner have caused losses to shareholders. There must be clear principles of accountability when such losses take place," the president maintained.
"The richness of a few cannot be at the cost of depriving others of their due," Patil added.
"India has been impacted by the global environment. However, our economy has the fundamental strength and resilience to remain on course for economic growth. The global financial crisis can be seen as an opportunity to reinforce the structures of our domestic economy."
She said the empowerment of women was necessary and a woman has a right to live with dignity and a right to be an equal citizen of the country.
"As the first woman president of India, there is a natural empathy that I have for the women of our country. I am conscious about the constraints and difficulties that they face in realising their full potential. Their empowerment is necessary and that can only come through education and economic development. A woman has a right to live with dignity and a right to be an equal citizen of the country."
Patil said the finalisation of the nuclear civil cooperation agreement has made India a participant in the international regime for nuclear energy and was an expression of confidence by the international community in India.