Calling for creating a New India by 2022, President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday said the country must be compassionate and egalitarian society that does not discriminate on gender or religious background.
In his first address to the nation, on the eve of 71st Independence Day, he hailed the government’s demonetisation decision and the people’s “wholehearted” support in the battle against corruption and black money, voluntarily giving up LPG fuel subsidy and the roll out of Goods and Services Tax.
He referred to Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Bose and various other freedom fighters and also invoked Jana Sangh ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay, saying New India must include “that integral humanist component that is in our DNA and which has defined our country and our civilisation”.
“New India must be a society rushing towards the future, but also a compassionate society,” he said.
The second Dalit President said India must be a compassionate society where the traditionally disadvantaged, whether SCs, STs or OBCs are part of the country’s national development process.
Recalling the role of freedom fighters, Kovind said people need to draw inspiration from them and imbibe their spirit and invoke it in the task of nation building.
“The stress on the moral basis of policy and action, belief in unity and discipline, faith in a synthesis of heritage and science, and promotion of the rule of law and of education – all of it was located in a partnership between citizen and government,” he said.
Asking people to work with unity and purpose to ensure that benefits of government policy reach all sections of society, the President said for this the partnership between citizens and government remains essential.
He said it is for each individual to ensure a Swachh Bharat and make India open defecation free.
He said it is also for each individual to ensure that daughters are not discriminated against and get the best education while promoting idea of “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao.”
“The government can frame laws and strengthen law enforcement – but it is for each of us to be a law-abiding citizen. And to build a law-abiding society. The government is pushing transparency and eliminating corruption in public recruitment and procurement – but it is for each of us to answer to our inner conscience in everyday life.”
Favouring making GST an essential part of everyday business culture, the President said he was happy that the transition to GST system has been smooth.
“It should be a matter of pride for all of us that the taxes we pay are used for nation building – to help the poor and the marginalised, to build rural and urban infrastructure, and to strengthen our border defences,” he said.
Talking of a strong partnership between citizens and the government that will allow the country to meet the goals of New India, Kovind said: “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.”
He said there is need to adopt technology to empower people and achieve the goal of poverty elimination in a single generation.
“Poverty and New India are simply not compatible.”
The President said while it is natural for people to think of their families, they must also think of their societies.
“We must heed the call for that extra degree of selflessness, that extra something beyond just duty,” he said, asking why each citizen cannot imbibe the spirit of selflessness displayed by soldiers on the borders, police and para-military forces that combat terrorism and farmers who toil for food security.
Referring to those who had given up LPG fuel subsidy for the sake of poor families, the President said: “I salute those families that gave up their subsidy. No law or government order made them do what they did. Their response came from within.
“We should draw inspiration from these families. Each of us must find a way to give back to society. Each of us must choose one thing we can do to help another, less-fortunate Indian.”
Kovind said the single most critical factor for nation building is to equip the coming generations.
“We need to ensure that not one child is left behind. As such 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!
“Our India is at the door of great achievements. In a few years, we will become a fully literate society. We must set the bar higher, and aim to become a fully educated society,” he said.