Targeting China for precipitating a crisis along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, President Ram Nath Kovind Friday referred to the Covid-19 pandemic and said “while the world community needs to fight together against the greatest challenge before humanity, some in our neighbourhood tried to carry out their misadventure of expansion”.
In his address to the nation on the eve of Independence Day, President Kovind, who did not name China, recalled the June 15 incident in Galwan Valley where 20 Indian Army personnel died in clashes with Chinese troops.
President Kovind address to nation on I-Day eve| Bravery of soldiers in Galwan Valley showed India is capable of giving befitting response’
“Our brave soldiers laid down their lives defending our borders. Those worthy sons of Bharat Mata lived and died for national pride. The entire nation salutes the martyrs of Galwan Valley. Every Indian feels grateful to their family members.
Their bravery in combat has demonstrated that while we believe in peace, we are also capable of giving a befitting response to any attempt of aggression,” he said.
On the commencement of the Ram temple construction in Ayodhya, the President called it “a moment of pride for all”.
“Only ten days ago, construction of the temple at Shri Ram Janmabhoomi began, in Ayodhya. It was indeed a moment of pride for all. People of the country maintained restraint and patience for a long time and reposed unflinching trust in the judicial system. The issue of Ram Janmabhoomi was resolved through judicial process.”
“All concerned parties and the people respectfully accepted the verdict of the Supreme Court and displayed before the world, Indian ethos of peace, non-violence, love and harmony. I congratulate all fellow citizens for their commendable conduct,” he said.
A major part of the President’s speech was devoted to the situation arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic, the fight against it.
“The whole world confronts a deadly virus which has disrupted all activities and taken a huge toll. It has altered the world we lived in before the pandemic,” he said.
He said the role of the central government, while anticipating the challenge of the pandemic, was reassuring and it had responded “effectively and well in time.”
“For a country so vast and diverse with high population density, meeting this challenge requires super-human efforts. All state governments took measures in accordance with local circumstances. People also supported whole-heartedly.
With our committed efforts, we have succeeded in containing the magnitude of the pandemic and saving a large number of lives. This is worth emulating by the wider world,” he said.
He said the nation is “indebted to doctors, nurses and other health workers who have been continuously on the forefront of our fight against this virus”.
“Unfortunately, many of them have lost their lives battling the pandemic. They are our national heroes. All Corona Warriors deserve high praise. They go much beyond their call of duty to save lives and ensure essential services. These doctors, health workers, members of disaster management teams, police personnel, sanitation workers, delivery staff, transportation, railway and aviation personnel, providers of various services, government employees, social service organisations and generous citizens have been scripting inspiring stories of courage and selfless service.”
“When cities and towns go quiet and roads are deserted, they work tirelessly to ensure that people are not deprived of health care and relief, water and electricity, transport and communication facilities, milk and vegetables, food and groceries, medicine and other essentials. They risk their own lives to save our life and livelihood,” he said.
The President said virus containment efforts have been supplemented by welfare interventions to support the poor and daily wage earners, “worst hit by the pandemic”. “By introducing ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana’, the government has enabled crores of people to earn their livelihood, and mitigate the impact of job-loss, dislocation and disruption caused by the pandemic. The needy are being given free food grains, so that no family goes hungry. The largest free food distribution programme in the world has been extended till the end of November 2020 to provide succour to about 80 crore people every month. In order to ensure that migratory ration card holders get ration anywhere in the country, all states are being brought under the coverage of the ‘One Nation-One Ration Card’ scheme,” he said.
India, he said, reached out to help other countries in their fight against the pandemic, and the overwhelming support India got at the elections for a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council was “a testimony to the goodwill we enjoy internationally”,
“It has been the tradition of India that we do not just live for ourselves, but work for the well-being of the entire world. India’s self-reliance means being self-sufficient without alienating or creating distance from the world. It implies that India will continue to engage with the world economy while maintaining its identity,” he said.
He said it was gratifying to see all sections of society coming together to help those hit by natural disasters like floods and Cyclone Amphan.
There are lessons to be learnt, he said, from the Covid-19 crisis since the virus does not “recognize any artificial divisions created by human society” and “we need to rise above all man-made differences, prejudices, and barriers”. There is a need to strengthen and expand public health infrastructure, he said.
Praising the New Education Policy, the President said it will pave the way for a “New India”. “Our youth will be able to freely choose their subjects according to their interests and talents… It will strengthen the culture of ‘Inclusion’, ‘Innovation’ and ‘Institution’ in the sphere of education. Imparting education in the mother tongue has been given emphasis in order to help young minds grow spontaneously. This will strengthen Indian languages as well as the unity of the country,” he said.