Indian president Droupadi Murmu. Photo: PTI
New Delhi: India has helped the world discover the true potential of democracy and the keyword for the country today is compassion for the downtrodden, needy and those on the margins, President Droupadi Murmu said on Sunday.
In her maiden address to the nation on the eve of the 76th Independence Day, Murmu said major economic reforms are being accompanied by innovative welfare initiatives and the world has seen "a new India rising in recent years, more so after the outbreak of COVID-19''.
The president said when India won independence, there were many international leaders and experts who were sceptical about the success of the democratic form of government in India due to poverty and illiteracy at that time.
"But we Indians proved the sceptics wrong. Democracy not only grew roots in this soil, it was enriched too," she said as she asked citizens to pledge to give everything for the sake of the safety, security, progress and prosperity of the country.
The president, in her 17-minute address, also complimented the policymakers for ensuring the growth of the country that has become more inclusive with reduced regional disparities.
"Our response to the pandemic has been appreciated everywhere. We launched the biggest vaccination drive in human history with vaccines manufactured in the country itself. Last month we crossed the 200-crore mark in cumulative vaccine coverage," said Murmu who took over the presidency last month,
She said in combating the pandemic, India's achievements have been better than those of many developed countries. "For this feat, we are grateful to our scientists, doctors, nurses, paramedics and the staff associated with vaccination," she said.
The president said that the pandemic uprooted lives and also economies in the entire world. "When the world has been battling the economic consequences of the great crisis, India got its act together and is now moving forward. India is among the fastest growing major economies in the world" whose start-up ecosystem ranks high in the world.
The president said "our existence will become meaningful only in building a glorious India" and quoted a poem of poet Kuvempu 'I will pass, So will you, But on our bones will arise the great tale of a new India'.
She said this is a clarion call of the nationalist poet for making a complete sacrifice for the motherland and the uplift of fellow citizens.
"To follow these ideals is my special appeal to the youth of the country who are going to build the India of 2047," she said.
In most other well-established democracies, women had to wage long-drawn struggles to get the right to vote. But India adopted universal adult franchise rights since the beginning of the Republic, she said.
Thus, the makers of modern India enabled each and every adult citizen to participate in the collective process of nation-building, she said adding India can be credited for helping the world discover the true potential of democracy.
She said the success of start-ups, especially the growing number of unicorns is a shining example of industrial progress and credited the Narendra Modi government and its policy-makers for beating the global trend and helping the economy flourish.
"During the last few years, unprecedented progress has been made in the development of physical and digital infrastructure....For the vibrancy of growth visible in our country, credit must also be given to workers and farmers whose hard work has made it possible and entrepreneurs whose business acumen has created wealth.
"What is all the more heartening is that the growth is becoming more inclusive and regional disparities too are reducing.
"But this is only the beginning. A series of economic reforms and policy initiatives have been preparing the ground for a long term...the 'National Education Policy' is aimed at preparing the future generation for the next stage of industrial revolution while also reconnecting it with our heritage."
She said the economic success is leading to an ease in living too as the reforms are rightly accompanied by innovative welfare initiatives.
"A home of one's own is no longer a dream for the poor, but a reality for more and more people, thanks to the 'Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana'. Similarly, under the 'Jal Jeevan Mission', tap water connection has been provided to every household since the launch of the 'Har Ghar Jal' scheme," she said.
She said the aim of these as well as other similar efforts is to provide basic amenities to all, particularly the poor.
"The keyword for India today is compassion; for the downtrodden, for the needy and for those on the margins. Some of our national values have been incorporated in our Constitution as the Fundamental Duties of the citizens.
"I appeal to every citizen to know about their Fundamental Duties and follow them in letter and spirit so that our nation reaches new heights," she said.
She said that at the core of the transformation, the country has been witnessing in healthcare, education, economy as well as a number of related areas is the stress on good governance.
"When work is done with the spirit of 'Nation First', it is bound to reflect in every decision and every sector. This is also reflected in India's standing in the world, she said.
She said India's newfound confidence stems from the spirit of its youth, its farmers, and above all, its women.
"Gender inequalities are reducing and women are moving ahead, breaking many glass ceilings. Their increasing participation in social and political processes will prove decisive," she said, adding that at the grassroots level, there were more than 14 lakh elected women representatives in Panchayati Raj Institutions.
"Our daughters are the biggest hope for the nation," she said and referred to the recently held Commonwealth Games in which sports persons especially women have been making the country proud with their performance in international competitions.
"A large number of our winners come from underprivileged segments of society. From becoming fighter pilots to space scientists, our daughters are scaling great heights," she said.
She said in celebrating Independence Day, "we are celebrating our 'Bharatiyata'. Our country is full of diversity. But, at the same time, we all have something in common. It is this common thread which binds all of us together and inspires us to walk together with the spirit of Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat."
She also spoke about the environment and said when the world is facing new challenges, India must remain determined to preserve its flora and fauna.
"With our traditional lifestyle, we Indians can show the way to the rest of the world. Yoga and Ayurveda are India's invaluable gifts to the world. Their popularity is on the rise all over the globe," she said.
The president said for 75 weeks now, the nation has been commemorating the noble ideals that won the country freedom.
"In March 2021, we began the 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav' with the re-enactment of the Dandi March. This way, our celebrations began with a tribute to that watershed event that had put our struggle on the world map. This festival is dedicated to the people of India".
She said citizens from all age groups have keenly participated in a series of events held across the country including the 'Har Ghar Tiranga Abhiyan'.
"The Indian tricolour is fluttering in every nook and corner of the country. Great martyrs would have been thrilled to see the spirit of the Independence Movement coming alive again on such a massive scale," she said.
She complimented the government for its decision last year to observe November 15 as 'Janajatiya Gaurav Divas' in which "our tribal heroes are not merely local or regional icons but they inspire the entire nation".
She said by the year 2047, "we will have fully realised the dreams of our freedom fighters. We will have given a concrete shape to the vision of those who, led by Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar, drafted the Constitution. We are already on course to build an Atmanirbhar Bharat, an India that would have realised its true potential."
Murmu said August 14 is observed as 'Partition Horrors Remembrance Day' to promote social harmony, unity and empowerment of people.
"Tomorrow marks the day when we had freed ourselves from the shackles of colonial rulers and decided to reshape our destiny.
"As all of us celebrate the anniversary of that day, we bow to all those men and women who made enormous sacrifices to make it possible for us to live in a free India," she said, adding it is a cause of celebration not only for all of us but also for every advocate of democracy around the world.