New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind Saturday said Parliament is the “temple of the country’s democracy” which provides the highest forum to discuss, debate and decide issues for the well-being of people, remarks that came against the backdrop of the continuous disruptions that led to the abrupt curtailment of the tumultuous Monsoon session.
In a televised address to the nation on the eve of the 75th Independence Day, the President also referred to the second Covid-19 wave, and said the country is yet to come out of its devastating effects. He asserted this is the time for extra care and caution, and people should not let their guard down.
President Kovind also sought to address the concerns raised by protesting farmers’ unions against the three contentious farm laws, saying the series of agricultural marketing reforms will empower our ‘annadata’ farmers and help them get better price for their produce.
Referring to the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics, he lauded the “stellar” performance by the country’s sportspersons.
President Kovind said when India won independence, many sceptics thought democracy would not survive in India.
“Little did they know that roots of democracy were nurtured in this soil in ancient times, and even in modern times India was ahead of many western nations in offering franchise to all adults, regardless of any distinctions.”
The founding fathers had reposed their faith in the wisdom of the people, and ‘we, the people of India’ have made India a strong democracy, he added.
“We have adopted the system of parliamentary democracy. Therefore, our Parliament is the temple of our democracy which provides us highest forum where we discuss, debate and decide issues for the well-being of our people,” the President said.
Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were adjourned sine die on August 11, two days ahead of the scheduled date of August 13, after a stormy Monsoon session that witnessed unruly scenes in the Upper House on Wednesday when the Insurance bill was being passed.
The Government and the opposition parties had traded charges over the early close to the session which was marred by continuous disruptions since it commenced on July 19.
The opposition parties accused the government of crushing their voice in Parliament, “murdering” democracy and bringing “outsiders” as marshals to beat up MPs, a charge denied by the government. The government on its part had alleged that it was pre-planned by the opposition to not allow Parliament to function.
Kovind also said it is a matter of great pride for all Indians that the country’s Parliament will soon be housed in a new building.
“It will be a fitting statement of our outlook. It will honour our legacy while also walking in step with the contemporary world, he said, adding that it is more than symbolic that the new building will be inaugurated in the year of the 75th anniversary of Independence.”
The President also said that India must strive for more equality in an unequal world, more justice in unjust circumstances, adding, Justice has come to encompass a larger range of connotations, including economic and environmental justice. “The road ahead is not easy”.
He said the country has to negotiate many twists and turns, but it has 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.”
The President noted that the country has suffered from a terrible second COVID wave due to the new variants and other unexpected factors.
“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,” he added.
“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.”
The President said the second wave brought the country’s public healthcare infrastructure under stress.
The reality is that no infrastructure, even of advanced economies, could withstand a crisis of such enormous proportions, he added.
“Efforts were made on war-footing to plug the gaps. The leadership rose to the challenge, and the government’s endeavours were supplemented by initiatives of the states, private sector healthcare facilities, the civil society and others,” he said.
In this extraordinary mission, foreign nations shared the essentials generously, just as India had reached out to many nations with medicine, equipment and vaccines, he said.
Due to these efforts, the nation breathes a sigh of relief with the return of a semblance of normalcy, he added.
“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.”
The President said 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.”
He said the economic impact of the pandemic is as disastrous as its health impact.
The government has been concerned about the lower middle classes and the poor, as well as about the small and medium industries, he said, adding, 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
President Kovind said it is heartening to note that rural India, particularly the agriculture sector has kept growing against all odds.
Noting that India has won the highest number of medals in the 121 years of its participation in the Olympics, President Kovind said, “Our daughters have achieved world class excellence in playgrounds overcoming many adversities.”
Along with sports, epoch-making changes are taking place in the participation and success of women in all walks of life, he said.
From higher educational institutions to armed forces, from laboratories to playgrounds, our daughters are making their mark, he added.
“In this success of our daughters, I see a glimpse of a developed India of the future,” the President said, adding, “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.”
Kovind also urged the youth of Jammu and Kashmir to work on realising their aspirations through democratic institutions.
“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.”
Kovind said modern industrial civilization has posed serious challenges before humankind.
“Climate change has become a reality of life, with seas rising, glaciers melting and temperatures soaring. India is proud of not only adhering to the Paris climate agreement but doing more than what the country has committed to protect the climate. However, the world desperately needs a course correction.”
Referring to his recent visit to Ladakh during which he paid homage to the brave soldiers at the ‘Dagger War Memorial’ in Baramulla, the President said he “noticed that the war memorial has a motto inscribed: ‘mera har kaam desh ke naam’ which means, each and every deed of mine is for the nation”.
“All of us should imbibe this motto as a mantra and work with full devotion and dedication for the development of the nation. I would like that all of us to come together to take India forward on the path of progress with the spirit of keeping the interest of the nation and society foremost,” he added.