Updated: January 26, 2021 8:02:38 am
WITH FARMERS on protest at the national capital’s borders for nearly two months, and no sign of a breakthrough in talks with the Centre on their demand to repeal the new agriculture laws, President Ram Nath Kovind Monday reached out to the farming community and said that the “path to reform” may initially cause “misapprehensions” but the Government is “singlularly devoted” to their welfare.
Addressing the nation on the eve of the 72nd Republic Day, Kovind also spoke about the border standoff in Ladakh without naming China, and said that India faced an “expansionist move” that was foiled by its “valiant” soldiers.
Referring to the past year as “a time of adversity”, the President described the Covid pandemic as “a calamity of gigantic proportions”. He conveyed his condolences to bereaved families and praised the country’s “frontline Corona warriors” as “ordinary citizens who turned out to be extraordinary”.
Kovind also hailed the country’s scientists for “decoding the coronavirus” and developing vaccines “in record time”. The mass vaccination drive launched this month, he said, is the “largest exercise of its kind in history”.
Referring to farmers, Kovind said: “Adversity often plays the role of a great teacher. It makes us stronger and more confident. With that confidence, India has taken great strides in several sectors. Economic reforms have continued apace and have been supplemented by long-pending reforms in the areas of labour and agriculture through legislation. The path to reform at the initial stages may cause misapprehensions. However, it is beyond doubt that the Government remains singularly devoted to farmers’ welfare.”
The President said: “Every Indian salutes our farmers, who have made our vast and populous country self-reliant in food-grains and dairy products. Despite adversities of nature, numerous other challenges and the Covid-19 pandemic, our farmers sustained the agricultural production. A grateful nation is fully committed to the welfare of our farmers.”
Referring to the armed forces, Kovind said: “Just as our hardworking farmers ensure food security for the country, the brave soldiers of the armed forces ensure security of our national boundaries amid severest conditions. From the freezing cold in Siachen and Galwan Valley in Ladakh with temperatures as low as minus 50 to 60 degrees Celsius to the scorching heat in Jaisalmer with temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius — on land, in the skies and at the vast coastal areas — our warriors are vigilant every moment.”
Speaking about the border standoff, the President pointed to the Galwan Valley incident last June. “We faced an expansionist move on our borders, but our valiant soldiers foiled it. To achieve this, 20 of them had to lay down their lives. The nation shall remain grateful to those brave soldiers. Though we reiterate our commitment to peace, our defence forces — Army, Air Force and Navy — are adequately mobilised in a well-coordinated move to thwart any attempt to undermine our security,” he said.
Stressing that “national interest will be protected at all costs”, he referred to India’s diplomatic outreach. “We have also ensured a widespread understanding in the international community of India’s firm and principled stand,” he said.
Appreciating the scientific community, Kovind said: “From space to the farms, from educational institutions to hospitals, the community of scientists has enriched our life and work. Our scientists have been working day and night for decoding the coronavirus and they have succeeded in developing the vaccine in record time.”
Asserting that the Prime Minister’s call of “AtmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyan” (Self-reliant India Mission) was to convert crisis into opportunity, Kovind said it is in line with the aspiration to shape a new India by the year 2022 when the country turns 75.
The President also praised the Government’s National Education Policy 2020, which “promises to incubate innate talent of students and ignite their minds to take up the challenges of life”.
According to Kovind, the outcome of all these reform initiatives is that even after the pandemic ordeal, “India stands not despondent but confident”.
“The slowdown has turned out to be transitory as the economy has regained its dynamism. A self-reliant India has manufactured its own vaccines for Covid 19 and is now undertaking a mass vaccination drive, which will be the largest exercise of its kind in history,” he said, while praising doctors, nurses, paramedics, healthcare administrators and sanitation workers for putting their lives at risk for patients.
Against the backdrop of classes moving online, educational institutions and teachers received appreciation from the President for “quickly adopting technologies” to see that there is no break in education. Kovind also praised the Election Commission for conducting “free and fair elections” in Bihar and in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
On the post-Covid unlockdown, Kovind said the process was “carefully caliberated”, has proved effective, and the economy started showing indications of faster-than-anticipated recovery.
The President reminded the nation that adherence to the core values of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity in the Indian Constitution is meant “not only for those who are mandated to govern but for the people at large.”
Stressing that every citizen should remember these Constitutional mantras, he said: “Equality is the watchword for the great project of our Republic. Social equality warrants dignity for each one of us, villagers, women, weaker sections of our society, namely Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Divyang-jan and the elderly people.”
Invoking B R Ambedkar, the President said that Constitutional morality means “supremacy of the values enshrined in the Constitution.”
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