Tuesday, January 25, 2011

President's speech on the eve of the Republic Day

My Fellow Citizens,
On the eve of our 62nd Republic Day, I extend my warmest greetings to
all of you across the country and also to those living abroad. I convey my
special greetings to the members of our Armed Forces and Para-Military
Forces, who guard our frontiers and to our internal security forces. I also
compliment every citizen from every walk of life for contributing to the process
of nation-building.
26th January is a very significant date in our nation’s calendar, when we
celebrate the establishment of free India as a Republic based on the ideology
of justice and equality. It is a day when we recall with gratitude the sacrifices
of our freedom fighters and the work of our Founding Fathers, for giving to us a
country where our dignity and individual freedoms are guaranteed by an
enlightened Constitution. It must also be an occasion when we rededicate
ourselves to maintaining harmony, peace and brotherhood. Most of all, it is a
time to introspect about how we have fared so far, and in which direction are
we moving.
For our achievements, the foremost credit goes to the drive and the
dedicated hard work of millions of men and women of our country. We are
witness to the increasing influence of India and its steady economic growth
that has brought prosperity to an increasing number of people. We can be
proud of our successes, but there are many significant tasks that are yet to be
accomplished, in particular the pledge to empower the poor and the
marginalized sections of our population so that they too can become a part of
the growth story of our nation.
Dear Citizens,
We are fortunate that we are the inheritors of the ideals and values of
one of the world’s oldest civilizations, which has bequeathed to us a rich
treasure of human experiences and thought. The concept of the human race
being one, the importance of living in harmony with each other and with
nature, the quest for knowledge and truth, find prominence in our age old
culture. These ideas provided inspiration for our freedom movement and after
our independence found a ready resonance in our Constitution. As citizens of
this country each one of us, therefore, has a duty and a responsibility to
demonstrate, that these principles have given to us the motivation and the
strength to build our great nation.
It is, however, a fact that there can be no society which does not need to
evolve to cope with the changing demands of time; and there can be no nation
which does not face challenges. India too has its share of problems and
obstacles, constraints and difficulties. We cannot evade these or wish them
away, but working in different fields, we must together find solutions. The
strength of a nation is not determined by the challenges it faces, but by its
responses to these challenges, especially so when it stands at a critical
juncture and at a decisive point. What we do in this coming decade in terms of
leveraging our advantages and addressing our shortcomings, will shape the
destiny of the nation. Wherever course correction is required, it must be
undertaken unhesitatingly and with urgency. There should be national
consensus on critical national goals. Among such goals, eradication of poverty,
empowerment of women, access to quality education and affordable health
facilities are essential for building human resources. Apart from this, civic
discipline, the readiness of people to work with dedication and integrity can
make an enormously positive impact.
Dear Citizens,
Among our remarkable accomplishments has been an unwavering
adherence to democracy. The people of India have expressed their confidence
by participating time and again in the electoral processes. For us, democracy is
an article of faith, important both as a basic pillar of our Republic and as a
guarantor of our freedoms. Its sustenance is essential for the identity of India,
hailed as the largest democracy in the world, and one that functions well even
in situations of multiple complexities. We must not only reinforce democratic
institutions and processes, but also refrain from any action, taken wittingly or
unwittingly, that dilutes or is detrimental to democracy.
The Parliament of the country is the repository of the sovereign will of
the people, and its successful functioning is a joint responsibility of both the
Government and the Opposition. It is important that the decorum and dignity
of the House is upheld at all times. The image of Parliament in the public mind
should be one where proceedings, debates and discussions take place with a
view to resolve issues through a constructive and co-operative approach. If
this does not happen, people's faith in democratic institutions can be affected,
resulting in a feeling of despondency which is unacceptable in a healthy
democracy, as it may derail democratic institutions. Hence, dialogue among
stakeholders in democratic institutions is an integral part of democratic
The time has come for us to take a closer look at our social milieu. Is
there growing criminalization of our society? Is there increasing apathy towards
each other? Are we becoming too materialistic, shortsighted and unconcerned
about the impact of our actions on our brethren, society or the environment? It
is a matter of anguish and great concern when a person is killed for a petty
sum of money; or when a woman is raped because she protests against being
teased; or when over small incidents, due to lack of patience, there is a quick
flaring of tempers. Cases of ragging in educational institutions are also
disturbing. Ragging is violence. It is heinous and should not be tolerated, for it
can cause irreparable loss to the parents and to the country. Our social fabric
is deeply damaged by such incidents and it is essential that these tendencies
are curbed in the interest of social harmony and cohesion. I appeal to my
fellow citizens to never resort to violence. Our nation won its freedom by
travelling on the high path of non-violence and truth. In our journey as an
independent nation too, we must adhere to it and demonstrate moral courage.
Societies evolve in a positive direction when people work to bring about
constructive changes and to eliminate social evils. In my first address to the
nation on the eve of Republic Day in 2008, I had spoken on the need for social,
economic, administrative and political activities to be carried out on the basis
of moral values and social justice. I reiterate the great importance of integrity,
honesty, good conduct and high values, which our culture teaches us.
The youth of our country must carry forward this legacy. As the
architects of the future of the country, their upbringing with a value-based
education is paramount in the development of their character. It is said that
the first teacher of the child is the mother when the child is of tender age, and
the next is the primary school teacher. Both make lasting impressions on
children in their formative years. In primary schools, teachers are doing good
work. We should regularly assess issues relating to training of teachers and
quality of education including checking instances of absenteeism of teachers.
In addition, our special efforts to reach out to students from tribal and remote
areas, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward communities
must be augmented. Our endeavour should be to create a level playing field in
educational competitiveness so that students from all sections of society can
enter premier institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology and the
Indian Institutes of Management.
Dear Citizens,
As a nation, our aim is to grow and to create a just society. Our goal of
poverty eradication and of inclusive growth that embraces the disadvantaged
and marginalized sections of society can be achieved when our actions are
guided by a social conscience and are not devoid of sensitivity. We are
seeking good governance and a people-centric administration. In this, callous
and casual attitudes in the sphere of public service are unacceptable. Delivery
systems for schemes and programmes that promote the welfare of the people
and spur economic growth should have inbuilt mechanisms for greater
transparency and accountability. Education, health and skill building efforts will
create productive human resources for the future. Urban and rural
development schemes will make our cities and villages sustainable habitats.
Programmes for women, the youth, the girl child, the differently-abled and
marginalized sections of society will equip them to avail of opportunities and
face the future with confidence. We need to address the problems of orphans
and street children, as well as of the old and destitute. For the success of
welfare schemes, the total sum of developmental funds must reach the
intended beneficiaries. Corruption is the enemy of development and of good
governance. Instead of getting lost in this mire, it is necessary to rise above it
and seriously look at bringing systemic changes to deal more effectively with
corruption. Financial institutions, the corporate world and civil society - all
must uphold high standards of probity in their working. Only a genuine
partnership between the Government and its people can bring about positive
change to create a just society.
The media plays an important role in bringing information, news and
views to the public. This generates awareness, promotes discussion on issues
and creates perceptions. There are numerous examples of outstanding
conduct in the country where good samaritans are rendering yeoman service
to society, some civil society organizations are putting in selfless work in the
field as are some philanthropists, scientists and educationalists doing
pioneering work. By highlighting such actions the media can inspire others to
follow good examples, and I would urge the media to work in a positive spirit,
as it expands its reach and coverage. A responsive and responsible media is an
asset in maintaining the vitality of democracy and its institutions.
Fellow citizens,
It is heartening that our economy is progressing at a stable pace and
that even in the face of difficult circumstances during the global financial
downturn, its performance was appreciable. We are now returning to the precrisis
growth pattern and are confident of growing at over 9 percent next year.
All sectors of the economy will be contributors to our growth trajectory.
However, rising inflation particularly food prices, are a cause of serious
concern and draw attention to the urgent need to take suitable action, and also
look at more innovative approaches towards food security, agricultural
production and rural development.
The Green Revolution which made our nation self sufficient in foodgrains
has run its course. We need a Second Green Revolution that maximizes
productivity, and yet generates income and employment opportunities for the
rural population. The First Green Revolution was almost confined to irrigated
areas, and now we should also focus on rain fed areas, which could become
the cradle for the Second Green Revolution. We should bear in mind that our
agricultural holdings are fragmented, small and are likely to further
decrease in size; making economic viability of farming a big issue. It is said
that small farmers are leaving farming, because of poor returns and scarcity of
agricultural labour. In such a situation, it would be advantageous to think of
modernization and mechanized farming, and there should be deliberations on
evolving suitable models for partnerships between farmers, private sector and
the Government in agriculture and rural development. In any arrangement, it
should be kept in mind that farmers are stakeholders in every aspect related to
agriculture, whether it is cultivation related activities, warehousing, processing,
marketing, research or development. Farmers, therefore, must be involved in
all these various activities, with a sensitivity that safeguards their rights on
their land and its produce. The corporate sector should take up responsibility
to make agriculture productivity remunerative, particularly in rain fed farming
areas, as food security is of prime importance for our country.
Every year there is drought in some or the other part of the country. A
national campaign for foodgrain productivity should be undertaken to create
awareness about sustainable food production for food security in every State
and in every block. Similarly, national planning for integrated production,
particularly of foodgrains like cereals, oilseeds and pulses is needed and
should be implemented, given that our population in the next 20 years is likely
to become 148 crore. Each State should, as far as possible and as per local
conditions, try to produce food grains required by it. This will result in saving
transport and storage costs, as also prevent wastage during transport and
handling, besides helping in quicker distribution of foodgrains.
In agriculture as in all other fields we need innovations more than ever
before. This decade has been designated as the 'Decade of Innovation' in India.
Our scientists and researchers have the talent and the capacity to look at highend
technology as also at cost-effective, location-specific and affordable
innovations for wider use in the country. Access to innovations is an integral
part of their practical use. In a situation of rapidly moving global knowledge
economy, our pace of research must accelerate. Larger funds should be
allocated for science and technology so that such scientists can undertake in
depth research in a wide range of subjects.
Development and progress require an environment of stability and
security. The work of our police and internal security agencies is critical in this
field, as also is our cooperation and dialogue with our neighbours for stability
in our region, and with the international community to create a peaceful world.
Terrorism poses the single most detrimental threat to the progress of
humankind. There is a crucial need for concerted action by all members of the
international community to eradicate the threat of terrorism. India's profile in
global affairs is the focus of international attention today. As India assumes its
seat as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, it will intensify
efforts to effect concerted and collective global action against terrorism, and
will also work with a deep sense of responsibility on all global issues.
Fellow Citizens,
Many developments in the last few years have brought to our attention
the importance of united action to achieve our goals besides emphasizing the
need to continue to adhere to the basic values of our country. Here, I am
reminded of some lines of a well-known poem:-

Which means:-
Compassion, non-violence, goodwill
May always flow in unison.
With these words, I once again greet all fellow citizens on the occasion of
Republic Day.
Jai Hind!