Urban-rural psychological distance is much less: President Ram Nath Kovind

President of India Ram Nath Kovind said on Saturday that parliament is the “temple of the country’s democracy” that provides the highest forum to debate issues for the well-being of people.
Urban-rural psychological distance is much less: President Ram Nath Kovind

NEW DELHI: President of India Ram Nath Kovind said on Saturday that parliament is the "temple of the country's democracy" that provides the highest forum to debate issues for the well-being of people.

Addressing the nation on the eve of its 75th Independence Day, he said, "Now as we look back to the seventy five-year journeys of our republic, we have reasons to be proud of the considerable distance we have travelled. Gandhiji taught us that slow and steady steps in the right direction are preferable to rapid strides in the wrong direction. The world looks up at the miracle of India, home to the plurality of traditions and yet the biggest and most vibrant democracy.

"Independence was made possible by generations of freedom fighters; some known, many unknown. They made great sacrifices. Today, you and I breathe under free skies thanks to their heroic deeds.

"Our nation, like many others, suffered great injustices and tyranny under foreign rule. What distinguishes India, however, is that the character of our nationalist movement, led by Mahatma Gandhi, was based on the principles of truth and non-violence. He and all other national heroes provided us with an invaluable blueprint to not only liberate the nation from colonial rule but also to rebuild it.

"In the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics, our sportspersons have brought laurels to the nation with their stellar performances. India has won the highest number of medals in the 121 years of its participation in the Olympics. Our daughters have achieved world-class excellence in playgrounds overcoming many adversities. From higher educational institutions to armed forces, from laboratories to playgrounds, our daughters are making their mark. In this success of our daughters, I see a glimpse of a developed India of the future. I urge every parent to learn from the families of such promising daughters and provide opportunities to their daughters also to explore avenues of growth.

"The intensity of the pandemic has come down, but the coronavirus has not yet gone away. We are yet to come out of the devastating effects of its recurrence this year. Last year, with exceptional efforts from all, we had succeeded in bringing the spread of infections under control. Our scientists had succeeded in developing vaccines in a very short time. Therefore, at the beginning of this year, there was every reason to be hopeful as we launched the largest vaccination exercise in history. Yet, due to the new variants and other unexpected factors, we suffered from a terrible second wave. I am deeply sad that many lives could not be saved and many more suffered immensely in this phase of an unprecedented crisis. I speak for the whole nation when I say that I share the grief of all the affected families with the same intensity.

"The science is coping with this invisible enemy of terrible might with remarkable speed. We can take solace from the fact that more lives have been saved than the lives lost. It was our collective determination to overcome the challenge that helped us see the weakening of the second wave. Once again, our corona warriors, the doctors, nurses and health workers, the administrators, and others, risked everything to contain the impact of the second wave.

"If we have learned our lessons well, we know that this is the time of extra care and caution. We shall not let our guard down. Vaccines are the best possible protection science offers to us. Under the world's biggest vaccination campaign going on in our country, more than 50 crore fellow citizens have been vaccinated so far. I urge all eligible citizens who are yet to get vaccinated to do so at the earliest and also inspire others.

"The economic impact of the pandemic is as disastrous as its health impact. It has been sensitive to the needs of the labourers and of employers who have been facing hardships due to the lockdowns and movement restrictions. Sensitive to their needs, the government had taken a series of relief measures last year. This year also, the government had distributed food grains to about 80 crore people in May and June. This benefit has been extended till Diwali. Moreover, the government has announced a new stimulus package worth Rupees 6 lakh 28 thousand crores to boost the selected Covid-affected sectors. In particular, it is heartening to note that an amount of Rupees 23 thousand 220 crores is being spent over one year for the expansion of medical facilities.

"It is heartening to note that rural India, particularly the agriculture sector has kept growing against all odds. The psychological distance between the urban and the rural is now much less as compared to the past. After all, India lives in its villages which cannot be allowed to lag in development. That is why special campaigns, including the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, are being implemented for the welfare of our farmers.

"These efforts are consistent with the vision of an AtmaNirbhar Bharat, a self-reliant India. With an abiding faith in the inherent capacity of the economy, the government has further opened up the defence, health, civil aviation, power and other sectors. The government's new initiatives to promote eco-friendly, renewable sources of energy, particularly solar power, have won praise around the world. If there is an improvement in the ease of doing business, it has a positive impact on the ease of living for all.

"A new dawn is rising in Jammu and Kashmir. The government has initiated the process of consultation with all stakeholders who have faith in democracy and the rule of law. I urge the people, especially the youth, of Jammu and Kashmir to utilise this opportunity and work on realising their aspirations through democratic institutions.

"With all-around progress, India's stature is rising in the international arena, as it was reflected in our participation in several key multilateral forums as well as in consolidating bilateral relationships with several countries.

"The government has planned many initiatives to make this special year memorable, and the most exciting of them all may as well be the Gaganyaan mission. Pilots of the Indian Air Force have been receiving training abroad.

"Yet we keep our feet on the ground. We acknowledge that we still have a long way to go in realising the dreams of those who won the freedom for us. Our Constitution neatly summarises those dreams in four words: Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. We must strive for more equality in an unequal world, more justice in unjust circumstances. The road ahead is not easy. We will have to negotiate many twists and turns, but we have the benefit of incomparable guidance. It comes to us from diverse sources, from the venerable seers of millennia ago, down to the sages and leaders of more recent times. In the spirit of "unity in diversity", we as a nation are following the right course." (PIB)

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