New Delhi: We must use technology to empower our people and achieve the goal of poverty. PresidentKovind remembers Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad on the eve of Independence day.
On August 15, 1947, we became a free nation. Sovereignty and the responsibility for our destiny moved from the British crown to the people of India.
It was the culmination of a dream for our country – a dream seen by our forefathers and freedom fighters. We were free to imagine and build our nation anew.
For our independence, we owe so much to the countless freedom fighters who made great sacrifices to bring us here.
Chennamma, the Rani of Kittur. Lakshmibai of Jhansi. Matangini Hazra, the heroine and martyr of the Quit India Movement. There are so many examples.
Matangini Hazra was an elderly woman, into her 70s. She was shot by the colonial police in Tamluk, in Bengal, while leading a peaceful protest march. She died with “Vande Mataram” on her lips and with the hope of a free India in her heart.
Freedom fighters like Sardar Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, Birsa Munda and thousands of others gave their lives for us. We can never forget them.
Gandhiji was not alone in this nationwide struggle for freedom and reform. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose exhorted our people, saying: “Give me blood and I will give you freedom”. At his word, millions of Indians joined the freedom movement under his leadership and gave their all.
Nehru ji emphasised that India’s age-old heritage and traditions – so dear to us – could co-exist with technology and a quest to modernise our society.
Sardar Patel instilled in us the importance of national unity and integrity. And of a disciplined national character.
Bhim Rao Ambedkar urged upon us the virtues of constitutional governance, of the rule of law – and of the vital need for education.
A tradition I remember from my childhood was that when there was a wedding in one family, the entire village shared the responsibility and contributed. Regardless of the caste or community, the bride became the daughter of not just a single family but of the entire village.
There was a sense of caring and of sharing, and of inter-dependence. If you helped your neighbours in their times of need, they instinctively helped you in turn.
Today, in big cities we may not even know our neighbours. Whether in cities or villages, it is important to reignite that sense of caring and sharing. This will make us a gentler and happier society and help us understand each other with greater empathy.
We should also work with unity and purpose to ensure that the benefits of government policies reach all sections of society. For this, the partnership between citizens and government remains essential.
The government is building toilets or helping build toilets – but it is for each of us to use those toilets and make India open-defecation free.
The government can frame laws and strengthen law enforcement – but it is for each of us to be a law-abiding citizen and build a law-abiding society.
The government is implementing GST to eliminate multiple taxes and simplify transactions – but it is for each of us to make this an essential part of our everyday transactions and business culture. I am happy that the transition to the GST system has been smooth.
In the year 2022, our country will complete 75 years of Independence. It is our national resolve to attain certain desired milestones for a New India by then.
When we speak of a New India, what do we mean? There are some obvious parameters – like a house for every family, power on demand, better roads and telecom, a modern railway network, rapid and sustained growth.
New India must be a society rushing towards the future, but also a compassionate society. A compassionate society where the traditionally disadvantaged, whether SCs, STs or OBCs, are part of our national developmental process.
I am confident that a strong partnership between citizens and the government will allow us to meet the goals of New India.
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.
Demonetisation has boosted our efforts to build an honest society. We must sustain this spirit and this momentum.
Poverty and New India are simply not compatible.
Today, the world is looking at India with admiration. Our country is seen as a responsible global citizen, a growing economy, and a solution provider to various international challenges – such as climate change, disasters, conflicts, humanitarian crises, radicalism and terrorism.
As citizens and children of India – whether we live at home or abroad – we must ask ourselves how we can add to our country’s pride.
Our soldiers who guard our borders, on a hot day in the desert or high up on a cold mountain, are not just doing their duty. They are displaying an extra degree of selflessness.
Our police and paramilitary forces that brave death to combat terrorism or crime and keep us safe are not just doing their duty. They are displaying an extra degree of selflessness.
On an appeal from the Prime Minister, more than one crore families voluntarily gave up their LPG fuel subsidy – so that a gas cylinder could reach the kitchen of a poorer family of fellow Indians. And so that members of that family, particularly women, were saved from smoke from chulhas that damaged their eyes and lungs.
I would urge you, as fellow nation builders, to help educate less-privileged children in our society. Help teach a child other than your own. Enrol and pay the school fees or buy the books of at least one child other than your own. Just one!
Two thousand five hundred years ago Gautam Buddha said, “Be a lamp unto yourself …” If we follow his teachings, acting together, with the passion of our freedom movement, we can collectively be the 125 crore lamps that light up the path to a New India.