New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday asserted that contentious issues
and extraneous debates should not be allowed to distract us at a “pivotal moment”
when the country is at the cusp of achieving many long-awaited goals.
In his televised address to the nation on the eve of India’s 72nd Independence Day,
President Kovind recalled Mahatma Gandhi’s “most noble mantra” on the power of
‘ahinsa'(non-violence) being far greater than the power of ‘hinsa’ (violence),
remarks that come against the backdrop of incidents of lynching and mob violence
in some 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”.
Touching upon a range of issues, the president also said women were entitled to a
life of their choice and security to fulfil their potential, amid concerns over
their privacy and safety.
“We are at a juncture in our history that is very different from any period we have
so far experienced. 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,” President Kovind said.
The president said that every Indian who does not jump the queue and respects the
civic space and rights of those ahead in the line lives up to the principles of the
country’s freedom struggle.
“It’s a very small gesture. Let us try and abide by it,” President Kovind said.
Highlighting 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, he said every Indian who does his or her job with sincerity
and commitment is upholding the principles of our freedom struggle.
He said the decisions the country takes today, the foundations we lay, the projects
we undertake, the social and economic investments we make today – whether for the
immediate future or for the medium term – will determine where we stand.
“The pace of change and development in our country is rapid and appreciable. And as
per our civilisational traditions, it is driven by our people, by civil society and
by a partnership between citizen and government. Its focus, again in keeping with
the essence of Indian thought, is on a better life for the less fortunate,” the
Stressing that women have a special role in the society, he said the expansion of
freedom in our country in many senses amounts to the expansion of freedom for women
in our country. “This is true 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”.
The president said women could do this as sheet-anchors of families or as
absolutely critical entrants to institutions of higher learning and India’s
“The choice is theirs; as a nation and as a society we must ensure that they have
the right and the ability to exercise that choice,” the president said.