In his customary address to the nation on the eve of the 70th Republic Day, President Ram Nath Kovind Friday said that the 17th Lok Sabha election is not ‘once-in-a-generation’ but ‘once-in-a-century’ moment as the country is standing at a crucial juncture. He said that “in some respects, this is as critical and formative a period as the late 1940s and early 1950s”. The decisions and actions of today will shape the India of the remainder of the 21st century, he asserted, while appealing to the people to vote in large numbers in the forthcoming elections.
Highlighting the role of the voting process in a democracy, President Kovind said this is a special year as those born in the 21st century will also be able to exercise their universal franchise.
He said that an election is not just a political exercise but a “collective call to wisdom and a collective call to action”. “It represents renewal and a recommitment to the goals and hopes of a shared and egalitarian society. It represents the diverse and yet singular urges of the people and the Republic of India,” he said, while adding that the act of voting as sacred.
The President said that this Republic day is special as the nation is going to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. He said that the birth anniversary of the ‘Father of The Nation’ is also an opportunity for the entire world to understand, adopt and implement his principles.
In a similar vein, President Kovind said that the nation will celebrate Constitution day this year in memory of Babasaheb Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, who chaired the Drafting Committee. “In his honour, and in our Constitution’s honour, the nation will celebrate Constitution Day this year in an appropriate manner,” he said.
He lauded the country’s connectivity in the form of ports and inland waterways, upgraded railways and rural roads. “India has been united and integrated, now it is being networked,” he said.
President Kovind attributed the strength of pluralism as the driving force behind India’s development. He said the ‘Indian model’ of pluralism rests on a tripod of diversity, democracy and development. “We cannot choose one above the other; we must have all three and we will have all three,” he said in his address to the nation.
The President also appreciated the government’s recent 10 per cent quota for upper caste poor, saying the “recent Constitutional amendment to provide special facilities for talented children from poorer families is another step to an India of our dreams – and of Gandhiji’s dreams”.