In his address to the nation on the eve of Republic Day, President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday spoke about the need for simultaneous elections to Parliament and assemblies, saying that it is the Election Commission who has to move forward in consultation with political parties.
The President also brought up the issue of demonetisation in his speech and said that currency ban may have led to “temporary” slowdown in economy but it will bring more transparency in the system.
India celebrates its 68th Republic Day on Thursday.
The official celebration of Republic Day spans over four days. It is marked by illumination of Raisina Hill area, address by the President, parade past the India Gate and the Beating Retreat ceremony.
The crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyanwould is the chief guest for the parade.
Highlights of the speech:
• President Pranab Mukherjee extends his greetings to all forces and pays his tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives in duty.
“We waited till January 26, 1950 -- when the Indian people got their constitution... On that day, we became the biggest democracy of the world,” the President says.
• Indian democracy has been a scene of oasis in a region troubled by unrest, says Pranab Mukherjee.
• President Mukherjee lists out the strides made by India in the fields of economy, development, education since its Independence.
Our economy has been performing well despite global challenges.... we are showing sustained recovery, says Mukherjee, who was also the former finance minister of India.
• Demonetisation may have led to temporary slowdown of economic activity, but it will improve the transparency of economy: Mukherjee talks on the contentious issue of currency recall.
The Narendra Modi-led government had demonetised old Rs 500/1000 notes in an announcement on November 8 last year. The Opposition, including Congress party, have maintained vigilant attack against the Modi government, saying that note ban has hurt the poor.
• Ahead of Assembly elections 2017 in which five states go to polls this year, the President says “time is ripe for a constructive debate on electoral reforms”.
As our Republic enters her sixty-eighth year, we must acknowledge that our systems are not perfect #PresidentMukherjee— President of India (@RashtrapatiBhvn) January 25, 2017
• Mukherjee enumerates the benefits of Clean India initiative, MGNREGA, Digital India, Start-up India, National Skill Development mission.
• Hailing the plurality of India, Mukherjee says ideas, tolerance and respect for others are values inherent to India. We are the “argumentative India”, not the “intolerant Indian”.
“Our tradition has always celebrated the ‘argumentative’ Indian; not the ‘intolerant’ Indian... Multiple views, thoughts and philosophies have competed with each other peacefully for centuries in our country. ”
“We are a noisy democracy, yet we need more, not less.”
We have to work harder because our pluralistic culture and tolerance are still being put to test by vested interests #PresidentMukherjee— President of India (@RashtrapatiBhvn) January 25, 2017
• Referring to the recent Budget session that ended on December 16, Mukherjee slams parliamentary disruptions and says that legislators lost time arguing.
• In his speech, the President talks about the issues facing India, including ensuring the well-being of security personnel, women’s safety, ecological degradation and food security.
• “Our motherland asks each of us in whatever role we play to do our duty; with integrity, commitment & unflinching loyalty,” the President says, ending the speech swiftly.
(With agency inputs)