With election talk in the air, President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday asked people to vote in a stable government to ensure economic development even as he warned Pakistan that India's "patience has limits" and it will take all "necessary steps" to protect its security.
In his second Independence Day address after becoming head of state in July 2012, Mukherjee said corruption was draining the nation's resources. He took a dig at politicians who he said had turned legislatures into "combat arenas".
The President also had a word about protecting nature and respecting the environment, saying the recent Uttarakhand flood disaster was nothing but a "wake up call" and "it is time to wake up".
Mukherjee said that before he addresses the people again on Aug 15, 2014, India would have had another general election.
"This great festival of democracy is an opportunity for us to elect a stable government which will ensure security and economic development."
Quoting the Bhagvad Gita, Mukherjee said the future of India's democracy rests on the right decision taken by the people.
"Let us not squander this extraordinary opportunity. We must work on across-the-board revival of our values and institutions.
"We must realize that rights go with responsibilities," he added.
On the latest flare-up with Pakistan, particularly in reference to the recent killing of Indian soldiers, he said: "Despite India's consistent efforts to build friendly relations with neighbours, there have been tensions on the border and repeated violations of the ceasefire on the Line of Control, leading to tragic loss of lives."
Mukherjee was referring to the killings of the five soldiers by Pakistani troops who sneaked into Jammu and Kashmir last week.
Without naming Pakistan, the president said: "Our commitment to peace is unfailing but even our patience has limits. All steps necessary to ensure internal security and protect the territorial integrity of the nation will be taken."
Mukherjee cautioned the people against disturbing the fine balance between man and nature that could result in disaster.
"In our race for development, we must be careful not to disturb the balance between man and nature. The consequences of such imbalance can be disastrous," he said, in reference to the Uttarkhand flash floods that killed thousands.
"This tragedy owes as much to the avarice of human nature as to the rage of Mother Nature. This was nature's wake up call. And it is time to wake up."
Noting that corruption had become a major challenge, the president said it was sapping the resources of India and spreading disillusionment and cynicism.
"Corruption has become a major challenge. The precious resources of the nation are being wasted through indolence and indifference. It is sapping the dynamism of our society. We need to correct this regression."
He had a word about the decline of institutions like parliament, saying legislatures looked more like "combat arenas". rather than a forum to pass laws.
"Democracy breathes through a vibrant parliament, an independent judiciary, a responsible media, a vigilant civil society, and a bureaucracy committed to integrity and hard work. It survives through accountability, not profligacy," he said.
"And yet we have allowed unbridled personal enrichment, self-indulgence, intolerance, discourtesy in behaviour and disrespect for authority to erode our work culture," he said, using strong language reflecting the concerns of the nation's first citizen.
"The biggest impact of the decay in the moral fiber of our society is on the hopes and aspirations of the young and the poor.
"We need a parliament that debates, discusses and decides. We need a judiciary that gives justice without delays.
"We need leadership that is committed to the nation and those values that made us a great civilization," he added.
India committed to peace, cooperation with Pak: PM
Amid skirmishes at the border, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday conveyed to his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif that India would keep pursuing peace, friendship and cooperation with that country.
In his Independence Day greetings, Singh extended good wishes to Sharif for building a peaceful, stable and prosperous Pakistan.