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India has always celebrated ‘argumentative’ Indian, not ‘intolerant’ one, says President; advocates electoral reforms

Delhi: Addressing the nation on the eve of Republic Day, President Pranab Mukherjee paid tribute to soldiers who had sacrificed their lives for the country and said that demonetisation would improve transparency of Indian economy.

“On the eve of 68th Republic Day of our nation, I extend warm greetings to all of you in India and abroad. I convey my special greetings to members of our Armed Forces, Para-military Forces and Internal Security Forces. I pay my tribute to brave soldiers and security personnel who made supreme sacrifice of their lives,” he said.

“When India attained freedom on 15th August 1947, we did not have an instrument of governance of our own. We waited till 26th January, 1950 when Indian people gave to themselves a Constitution. We promised to promote fraternity, dignity of the individual, and unity and integrity of the nation,” he added.

He further said, “From a population of 360 million in 1951, we are now a 1.3 billion strong nation. From a net food grains importing country, India is now a leading exporter of food commodities.”

On the note ban he said, “Demonetization may have led to temporary slowdown of economic activity, but it will improve transparency of economy. The journey so far has been eventful, sometimes painful, but most of the times, exhilarating. What has brought us thus far will take us further ahead. But we will have to learn to adjust our sails, quickly and deftly, to the winds of change.”

Pointing out the plurality of India, the President said, “India’s pluralism and her social, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity are our greatest strength. Our tradition has always celebrated the ‘argumentative’ Indian, not the ‘intolerant’ Indian.”

“Multiple views, thoughts and philosophies have competed with each other peacefully for centuries in our country. A wise and discerning mind is necessary for democracy to flourish. A healthy democracy calls for conformity to the values of tolerance, patience and respect for others. These values must reside in the hearts and minds of every Indian,” he maintained.

Talking about Indian democracy and its strength, the President said, “We have a noisy democracy, yet, we need more and not less of democracy. Strength of our democracy is evidenced by the fact that over 66% of the total electorate voted in 2014 General Elections. The depth and breadth of our democracy sparkles in the regular elections being held in our Panchayati Raj institutions.”

Lamenting the disruptions in Parliament, he said, “Our legislatures lose sessions to disruptions when they should be debating and legislating on issues of importance. Collective efforts must be made to bring the focus back to debate, discussion and decision-making. As our Republic enters her sixty-eighth year, we must acknowledge that our systems are not perfect. The imperfections have to be recognized and rectified. The settled complacencies have to be questioned. The edifice of trust has to be strengthened.”

The President said that the time was also ripe for a constructive debate on electoral reforms. “It is for the Election Commission to take this exercise forward in consultation with political parties,” he said.

“In a fiercely competitive world, we have to work harder than ever to redeem the promises that we make to our people. We have to work harder because our war on poverty is not yet over. Our economy is yet to grow at over 10 percent for an extended period of time to make a significant dent on poverty. One-fifth of our countrymen still remain below poverty line. Gandhi ji’s mission to wipe every tear from every eye still remains unfulfilled. We have to work harder to provide food security to our people,” he went on to say.

“We have to make the agriculture sector resilient to the vagaries of nature. We have to provide better amenities and opportunities to our people in villages to ensure a decent quality of life. We have to work harder to provide enhanced employment opportunities to our youth. The competitiveness of the domestic industry has to be improved by focusing on quality, productivity and efficiency,” the President said.

“We have to work harder to provide safety and security to our women and children. Women must be able to lead their lives with honour and dignity. Children must be able to enjoy their childhood to the fullest,” he emphasised.

In his address, the President talked about terrorism as well. “We have to work harder to keep at bay dark forces of terrorism, these forces have to be dealt with firmly and decisively. The forces inimical to our interests cannot be allowed to grow. We must ensure well-being of our soldiers and security personnel who protect us from internal and external threats.”

Source: Zee News