Time to widen the idea of independence, says President Ram Nath Kovind in address to nation
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Time to widen the idea of independence, says President Ram Nath Kovind in address to nation

In a televised address to the nation on the eve of India’s 72nd Independence Day, President Ram Nath Kovind also outlined a new concept of citizenship and spoke about the power of non-violence.

india Updated: Aug 14, 2018 23:03 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
President Ram Nath Kovind,Independence Day,Kovind speech
President Ram Nath Kovind addresses the nation on the eve of Independence Day, at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi.(PTI Photo)

At a time when there is a growing debate on questions of identity, being Indian and incidents of lynching and violence, President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday said the country is at the cusp of achieving many long-awaited goals and should not get distracted by “contentious issues and extraneous debates.”

In a televised address to the nation on the eve of India’s 72nd Independence Day, Kovind also outlined a new concept of citizenship. Every citizen will be upholding the principles of the freedom struggle if he or she simply does his or her duty with sincerity and commitment, fulfils personal and professional obligations, keeps promises, does not jump queues and respects the civic space and rights of others ahead in the line, he said.

The President also spoke about how the “power of ahinsa (non -violence)” espoused by Mahatma Gandhi was far greater than the “power of hinsa (violence)” in an apparent reference to growing incidents of lynching and violence in parts of the country.

“The power to stay your hand is far greater than the power to strike with your hand and hinsa has no place in the society,” Kovind, 72, said.

The President said Indianness is not for us alone. “It is part of what our country and our civilization bring to the global stage,” he said. Kovind also spoke about the contribution made by various segments of society including farmers, armed forces, police, paramilitary forces and women in nation building.

The President spoke at length on women’s empowerment. Stressing the role of women in society, Kovind said that as a nation, India must ensure that they have the right and the ability to exercise their choices.

“The expansion of freedom in our country in many senses amounts to the expansion of freedom for women in our country…..whether we see them as mothers, sisters, daughters or simply as women who are entitled to a life of their choosing and deserving of the opportunity and the security to fulfil their potential,” Kovind said.

The choice, Kovind said, is theirs. “As a nation and as a society we must ensure that they have the right aand the ability to exercise that choice.”

In his second Independence Day-eve address to the nation, Kovind also highlighted the role of farmers in providing food security to fellow citizens and the contribution by the country’s armed and police forces in battling terrorism and ensuring law and order.

Talking about the big flagship programmes of the government, the President emphasized that citizens should use the programmes and projects to further individual efforts. “Let us make that sense of ownership our motivation,” he said.

Citing the example of the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, Kovind said the scheme was taking seven flagship programmes to the doorsteps of the poorest and the most deprived among citizens and helping raise the quality of life of the historically weaker communities such as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Read full speech here

First Published: Aug 14, 2018 22:40 IST