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Saturday, July 02, 2022

Forty Years Ago, July 26, 1977: President Sworn In

Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was sworn in as the sixth President of the Republic. In his acceptance speech, he said that he would provide “the harmonising touch that is required for healing the old wounds, promoting better understanding and removing the lingering fears and suspicions”.

By: Editorial |
Updated: July 26, 2017 12:15:20 am
Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, President Elections, Indira Gandhi, Acharya Conference, Vinoba Bhave, Dalai Lama, Indian Express The Indian Express frontpage on July 26, 1977.

Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was sworn in as the sixth President of the Republic. In his acceptance speech, he said that he would provide “the harmonising touch that is required for healing the old wounds, promoting better understanding and removing the lingering fears and suspicions”. “I stand on this podium, before this distinguished gathering as a representative of the entire nation, of all sections of people and shades of opinion,” he said. His unanimous election to the high office as a consensus candidate with the widest measure of support, he said, ‘‘has set a new precedent for keeping this great institution above political controversy, so that the President can serve as a link between different parties in preserving the unity of the country”.

Indira At Paunar

Indira Gandhi looked nervous when newsmen asked her at Paunar Ashram whether she realised now that acceptance of the made by the Acharya Conference in January last year would have saved her and her party from defeat in the Lok Sabha elections. She paused for a moment, cleared her throat and said that the government had to assess the total situation and take a decision. The All-India Acharya Conference convened by Vinoba Bhave at Paunar Ashram in January 1976, had expressed the opinion that “the detention of a large number or social and political workers, curtailment of civil liberties and press censorship” were not good for the health of the nation if continued indefinitely.

The Dalai Lama

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The Dalai Lama believes that there is now some “leniency or liberalisation” in China but rules out his return to Tibet unless the Tibetans themselves feel “happy and satisfied.” He said the problem was not of the Dalai Lama alone or of the 80,000 Tibetan refugees who had come out of Tibet but that of the six million Tibetans. They must feel “happy and satisfied” before he could think of returning.

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