India must be compassionate and egalitarian: President Ram Nath Kovind
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India must be compassionate and egalitarian: President Ram Nath Kovind

In his first address to the nation, on the eve of 71st Independence Day, President Ram Nath Kovind hailed the government’s demonetisation and GST decision.

india Updated: Aug 15, 2017 00:22 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Independence Day speech,Ram Nath Kovind,President of India
President Ram Nath Kovind addresses the nation on the eve of 71st Independence Day, in New Delhi.(PTI Photo)

President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday lay down the markers for a New India, one that would be compassionate towards the disadvantaged and would not discriminate on the basis of gender or religion, as he pitched for a people-government partnership.

In his first address to the nation on the eve of the 71st Independence Day, Kovind, who was sworn in as India’s fourteenth President last month, hailed the government’s demonetisation decision, people’s support in the battle against corruption and the roll out of goods and services tax.

“New India must be a society rushing towards the future... A compassionate society where the traditionally disadvantaged, whether SCs, STs, or OBCs, are part of our national developmental process,” said Kovind, the second Dalit to be the President after KR Narayanan.

In the year 2022, the country would complete 75 years of Independence and “it is our national resolve to attain certain desired milestones for a New India by then”, he said.

In his 30-minute speech, Kovind lauded the sacrifices made by countless freedom fighters as he specifically named Jawaharlal Nehru along with Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Bhagat Singh, Rani Lakshmibai, Ashfaqullah Khan and BR Ambedkar, saying the generation that brought Independence was diverse.

The Congress had taken strong exception to Kovind not mentioning Nehru in his maiden speech to Parliament after assuming the country’s top post.

The 71-year-old Kovind said New India must include “integral humanist component that is in our DNA and which has defined our country and our civilisation”.

The President stressed on the need for a robust partnership between the citizen and government, where every individual contributed to nation building.

The government had started the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) campaign, created infrastructure and was promoting Beti Bachao Beti Padhao but it was for “each one of us” to ensure the success of these schemes, he said.

“The government can frame laws and strengthen law enforcement – but it is for each of us to be a law abiding citizen,” he said.

The government was pushing for transparency and eliminating corruption “but it is for each of us to answer to our inner conscience in everyday life”, he said.

Highlighting various steps undertaken by the Modi government to improve the economy and fight corruption, Kovind hailed citizens for their contribution.

He said partnership between citizens and government was crucial to the success of several flagship announcements of the Modi government such as giving up LPG subsidy, demonetisation, introduction of GST.

“Your immense patience and understanding in the days following demonetisation – and your whole-hearted support in the battle against corruption and black money – reflected a responsible and enlightened society,” Kovind said.

“I am confident that a strong partnership between citizens and the government will allow us to meet the goals of New India.”

The President said demonetisation boosted the government’s effort to build an honest society. “We must sustain this spirit and this momentum,” he said.

Kovind also called upon the citizens to imbibe a “spirit of selflessness”, taking inspiration from the soldiers guarding borders, the police and paramilitary who brave death to combat terrorism and crime, and the farmers who labour under extremely tough conditions to grow food.

First Published: Aug 14, 2017 19:35 IST