India should not be distracted by “contentious issues and extraneous debates” when is at the cusp of achieving its goal of ending poverty, said President Ram Nath Kovind in his speech to the nation on Tuesday before Independence Day.Kovind called for a “broader concept” of independence, saying that a gesture like not jumping a queue “lives up to the principles of our freedom struggle”. He hailed farmers, soldiers, women, and the youth for strengthening India’s indpendence.“We are at the cusp of achieving many of our long-awaited goals. Universal access to electricity, the elimination of open defecation, the elimination of homelessness, the very elimination of extreme poverty is achievable and attainable. We are at a pivotal moment. Let contentious issues and extraneous debates not distract us,” he said in his nearly 30-minute televised speech.Kovind spoke about Mahatma Gandhi’s philsophy of non-violence (ahinsa). “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. The weapon of ahinsa was the most effective weapon Gandhiji gave us,” he said.“Every citizen of India who does his or her duty sincerely, fulfils a personal and professional obligation and keeps to a given word is, at a fundamental level, upholding the principles of our freedom struggle,” he said. Kovind, in his customary speech last year, had hailed the government’s demonetisation decision, people’s support in the battle against corruption and the roll out of goods and services tax.