Lending his voice against the recent incidents of lynching, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday took a broadside against the administration asking “are we vigilant enough proactively to save the basic tenets of our country”.
He also said that vigilance on the part of citizens, intellectuals and media can act as the biggest deterrent to the forces of darkness and backwardness.
Launching the commemorative publication of the Congress party’s organ National Herald, Mukherjee also reminded the journalists that their job will never come to an end and their motto should be “freedom first, freedom now, freedom forever”.
“We shall have to ponder over, pause and reflect. When we read in the newspapers or see in the television that an individual is being lynched because of some alleged violation of law or not, when mob frenzy becomes so high, irrational and uncontrollable, we are to pause and reflect,” he said.
“Are we vigilant enough? I am not talking about vigilantism, I am talking of are we vigilant enough proactively to save the basic tenets of our country? We cannot avoid it. Posterity will demand an explanation from us that ‘What have you done,” he added.
Mukherjee, who steps down later this month, said: “Today, I am not going to suggest that there is any apprehension of the old type of colonialism to come back. But colonialism has always taken its different face with the change of history, exploitation, dominance by one power to another power.
“I will appeal to the mediapersons that your duty, your job has never come to an end, and it will never come to an end,” he said reminding journalists.
“Because of you, democracy survives, people’s rights are preserved, human dignity is maintained, slavery is kept away. You will have to keep your vigilance.. I am sorry I am using this word repeatedly but I don’t find any alternative appropriate word…
“Because I do believe that citizen’s vigilance, intellectual vigilance, newspapers’ and media’s vigilance can act as the biggest deterrent to the forces of darkness and backwardness,” he added.
Mukherjee said that during the freedom struggle, every newspaper, editors and journalists boldly faced oppression and whenever there was any attempt to curb freedom, they were the first to fight.
“Therefore, we have to keep in mind what was said by one eminent journalist that ‘My motto is nothing but ‘freedom first, freedom now, freedom forever’,” he added.
The President said that “our achievements in the last 70 years are not just about building dams or power plants etc”.
“It is not just about economic independence or regional prosperity but our unity, which is our greatest strength,” Mukherjee said.
“Our national unity and nationalism is exhibited when more than 1.3 billion people, speaking more than 200 languages in their daily lives, practicing seven major religions and belonging to three different ethnic groups – Caucasians, Mongoloids and Dravidians, come together to constitute One India, under one flag and one Constitution and live in peace and harmony,” he added.