Pranab warns Pakistan, hails Indian youth and woman
In his maiden Republic Day eve speech, President Pranab Mukherjee
warned Pakistan not to take India's friendship for granted, hailed
the spirit of the Indian youth and said brutalizing women amounted
to wounding "the soul of our civilization". »
The President Pranab Mukherjee,
addressed the Nation on the eve of the 64th Republic Day.
Following is the text of the President’s address on the occasion:
My Fellow Citizens:
On the eve of our 64th Republic Day, I extend warm greetings to
all of you in India and abroad. I convey my special greetings to
members of our armed forces, paramilitary forces and internal
India has changed more in last six decades than in six previous
centuries. This is neither accidental nor providential; history
shifts its pace when touched by vision. The great dream of raising
a new India from the ashes of colonialism reached a historic
denouement in 1947; more important, independence became a turning
point for an equally dramatic narrative, nation-building. The
foundations were laid through our Constitution, adopted on 26
January 1950, which we celebrate each year as Republic Day. Its
driving principle was a compact between state and citizen, a
powerful public-private partnership nourished by justice, liberty
India did not win freedom from the British in order to deny
freedom to Indians. The Constitution represented a second
liberation, this time from the stranglehold of traditional
inequity in gender, caste, community, along with other fetters
that had chained us for too long.
This inspired a Cultural Evolution which put Indian society on the
track to modernity: society changed in a gradual evolution, for
violent revolution is not the Indian way. Change across the
knotted weaves of the social fabric remains a work in progress,
impelled by periodic reform in law and the momentum of popular
In the last six decades there is
much that we can be proud of. Our economic growth rate has more
than tripled. The literacy rate has increased by over four times.
After having attained self sufficiency, now we are net exporters
of food-grain. Significant reduction in the incidence of poverty
has been achieved. Among our other major achievements is the drive
towards gender equality.
No one suggested this would be easy. The difficulties that
accompanied the first quantum leap, the Hindu code bill, enacted
in 1955 tell their own story. It needed the unflinching commitment
of leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Babasaheb Ambedkar to push
through this remarkable legislation. Jawaharlal Nehru would later
describe this as perhaps the most important achievement of his
life. The time has now come to ensure gender equality for every
Indian woman. We can neither evade nor abandon this national
commitment, for the price of neglect will be high. Vested
interests do not surrender easily. The civil society and the
government must work together to fulfill this national goal.
I speak to you when a grave tragedy has shattered complacency. The
brutal rape and murder of a young woman, a woman who was symbol of
all that new India strives to be, has left our hearts empty and
our minds in turmoil. We lost more than a valuable life; we lost a
dream. If today young Indians feel outraged, can we blame our
There is a law of the land. But there is also a higher law. The
sanctity of a woman is a directive principle of that larger
edifice called Indian civilization. The Vedas say that there is
more than one kind of mother: birth mother, a guru's wife, a
king's wife, a priest's wife, she who nurses us, and our
motherland. Mother is our protection from evil and oppression, our
symbol of life and prosperity. When we brutalise a woman, we wound
the soul of our civilization.
It is time for the nation to reset its moral compass. Nothing
should be allowed to spur cynicism, as cynicism is blind to
morality. We must look deep into our conscience and find out where
we have faltered. The solutions to problems have to be found
through discussion and conciliation of views. People must believe
that governance is an instrument for good and for that, we must
ensure good governance.
We are on the cusp of another generational change; the youth of
India spread across villages and towns, are in the vanguard of
change. The future belongs to them. They are today troubled by a
range of existential doubts. Does the system offer due reward for
merit? Have the powerful lost their Dharma in pursuit of greed?
Has corruption overtaken morality in public life? Does our
legislature reflect emerging India or does it need radical
reforms? These doubts have to be set at rest. Elected
representatives must win back the confidence of the people. The
anxiety and restlessness of youth has to be channelized towards
change with speed, dignity and order.
The young cannot dream on an empty stomach. They must have jobs
capable of serving their own as well as the nation's ambitions. It
is true that we have come a long way from 1947, when our first
Budget had a revenue of just over Rs.171 crore. The resource base
of the Union government today is an ocean compared to that drop.
But we must ensure that the fruits of economic growth do not
become the monopoly of the privileged at the peak of a pyramid.
The primary purpose of wealth creation must be to drive out the
evil of hunger, deprivation and marginal subsistence from the base
of our expanding population.
Last year has been a testing time for us all. As we move ahead on
the path of economic reforms, we must remain alive to the
persisting problems of market-dependent economies. Many rich
nations are now trapped by a culture of entitlement without social
obligations; we must avoid this trap. The results of our policies
should be seen in our villages, farms and factories, schools and
Figures mean nothing to those who do not benefit from them. We
must act immediately, otherwise the current pockets of conflict,
often described as "Naxalite" violence, could acquire far more
In the recent past, we have seen serious atrocities on the Line of
Control on our troops. Neighbours may have disagreements; tension
can be a subtext of frontiers. But sponsorship of terrorism
through non-state actors is a matter of deep concern to the entire
nation. We believe in peace on the border and are always ready to
offer a hand in the hope of friendship. But this hand should not
be taken for granted.
India's most impregnable asset is self-belief. Each challenge
becomes an opportunity to strengthen our resolve to achieve
unprecedented economic growth and social stability. Such resolve
must be nourished by an avalanche of investment, particularly in
better and greater education. Education is the ladder that can
help those at the bottom to rise to the pinnacles of professional
and social status. Education is the mantra that can transform our
economic fortunes and eliminate the gaps that have made our
society unequal. So far education has not reached, to the extent
desired, to those most in need of this ladder. India can double
its growth rate by turning today's disadvantaged into multiple
engines of economic development.
On our 64th Republic Day, there may be some reason for concern,
but none for despair. If India has changed more in six decades
than six previous centuries, then I promise you that it will
change more in the next ten years than in the previous sixty.
India’s enduring vitality is at work.
Even the British sensed that they were leaving a land which was
very different from the one they had occupied. At the base of the
Jaipur Column in Rashtrapati Bhavan there is an inscription:
“In thought faith…
In word wisdom…
In deed courage…
In life service…
So may India be great”
The spirit of India is written in stone.