STATING THAT “rights and duties are two sides of the same coin”, President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday said “the observance of the fundamental duties mentioned in the Constitution by the citizens creates the proper environment for enjoyment of fundamental rights”.
“Democracy, justice, liberty, equality and fraternity… form the bedrock on which our Republic stands. These are the values that form our collective inheritance. These values have been accorded primacy in our Constitution in the form of fundamental rights and fundamental duties of the citizens,” he said.
Addressing the nation on the eve of Republic Day, Kovind said crores of citizens had fulfilled “the fundamental duty of rendering national service” by taking part in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and Covid vaccination drive.
“A great deal of credit for the success of such campaigns goes to our dutiful citizens. I am sure that our people will continue to strengthen the campaigns of national interest with their active participation and will demonstrate the same dedication,” he said.
“In the fight against the pandemic, it has now become a sacred national duty of every citizen to follow the precautions suggested by our scientists and experts. We have to discharge this duty till the crisis is behind us,” he said.
“As the pandemic is still widespread, we must remain alert and not let our guard down. The precautions we have taken till now have to be continued. Wearing mask and maintaining social distancing have been essential parts of Covid-appropriate behaviour,” he said.
Saying that India became self reliant in the vaccination programme, despite being a developing economy with inadequate resources and high population density, he said: “It is only in such difficult times that the resilience of a nation shines forth. I am proud to say that we have shown an unmatched resolve against the coronavirus. In the first year itself, we raised the healthcare infrastructure and also reached out to help others. By the second year, we had developed indigenous vaccines and launched the world’s biggest vaccination drive in history.”
Besides lauding doctors, nurses and paramedics, he said: “The leadership, policy-makers, administrators and others at the central and state levels have made timely interventions. Due to such interventions the economy is on the move again. It is a testimony to India’s spirit in the face of adversity that the economy is projected to grow at an impressive rate in this fiscal, after going through contraction last year.”
He said the government has “shown relentless focus on reforming every economic sector and providing a helping hand wherever necessary.”
“The impressive economic performance is made possible due to improvement in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors. I am happy to note that our farmers, especially young farmers with small holdings, are enthusiastically adopting natural farming,” he said.
He had special praise for small and medium enterprises which, he said, have played an important role in providing employment and imparting impetus to the economy.
“Our innovative young entrepreneurs have set new benchmarks of success by making effective use of the start-up ecosystem. It is a testimony to the success of our country’s massive and robust digital payment platform that millions of digital transactions are being done every month,” he said.
Maintaining that “patriotism strengthens the sense of duty among citizens”, Kovind said: “Whether you are a doctor or lawyer, a shopkeeper or office-worker, a sanitation employee or labourer, doing one’s duty well and efficiently is the first and foremost contribution you make to the nation.”
Citing the example of Sui village in Bhiwani district of Haryana, which, he said, was transformed by villagers under the Swa-Prerit Adarsh Gram Yojana, he said this “affection and gratitude for one’s village or native land” is “worth emulating”.
“There remains life-long love and reverence for their native land in the hearts of grateful people. This example strengthens my belief that a new India is emerging – a Strong India and a Sensitive India” he said.
He also narrated his own experience of going back to his birthplace — Paraunkh in Kanpur Dehat district of Uttar Pradesh – which he visited last June. “On reaching there, I naturally felt the urge to express respect for the sacred soil of my village and applied it on my forehead because I believe that I have been able to reach Rashtrapati Bhavan only due to the blessings of my village.Wherever in the world I may be, my village and my country remain in my heart,” he said.
“All of you must serve your place of birth and your country in whatever way you can. If all the successful people of India work sincerely for the development of their birthplaces, then the whole country will benefit from the outcome of such local development,” he said.
“India is an ancient civilisation but a young republic. For us, nation-building is a constant endeavour,” the President said. “I am confident that India is better placed today to meet the challenges of the future,” he said.
The President also mentioned the move to empower women in the Armed Forces. “Our daughters have broken a glass ceiling, and permanent commission has now been allowed for women officers in new areas. Also, the talent pipeline for the forces will be strengthened with women coming through Sainik Schools and the prestigious National Defence Academy. Consequently, our Armed Forces will benefit from better gender balance” he said.
He paid tribute to late Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, his wife and others who were killed in the helicopter crash last month. “The entire country was deeply saddened by the tragic loss,” he said.