Outgoing President Ram Nath Kovind, in his farewell address to the nation on Sunday, said “Mother Nature” is in agony and the climate crisis may endanger the future of this planet. President Kovind also said he was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and advised by former President Pranab Mukherjee.
“Mother Nature is in agony and the climate crisis may endanger the very future of this planet. We must take care of our environment, our land, our air and our water, for the sake of our children In our daily life and our routine choices, we must be more careful to protect our trees, our rivers, our seas and our mountains as well as all other living things.As a first citizen, if I have to give advice to my fellow citizens, it must be this one,” he said in his address.
Last week, NDA candidate Draupadi Murmu became the first tribal woman to be elected to the country’s top job. She will be sworn in on Monday.
Kovind said the nation was celebrating “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav”.
“Next month we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of Independence. We will enter the ‘Amrit Kaal’, the 25-year period leading up to the centenary of Independence. These anniversaries are milestones on the Republic’s journey, a journey to discover its potential and deliver the best to the world. In modern times, the glorious journey of our country began with the awakening of nationalist sentiments under colonial rule and the launching of the struggle for freedom,” he said.
“When Gandhi returned to the motherland in 1915, nationalist fervor was growing. I have always firmly believed that no other country was so fortunate as India to have a galaxy of rulers, each of whom was an exceptional mind, in the span of a few decades at the start of the 20th century. Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, like a modern-day rishi, was hard at work helping us rediscover our cultural roots, while Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar vigorously championed the cause of equality which was unknown in most advanced countries,” said he added.
Kovind said that from Tilak and Gokhale to Bhagat Singh and Netaji, from Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee to Sarojini Naidu and Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay – nowhere in the history of mankind have so many great minds come together for a common cause.
He added that Gandhi was the one whose transformative ideas most influenced the outcome and who changed so many lives in the process.
“The official map of the democratic path on which we have all sailed was drawn up by the Constituent Assembly. It included great minds from all over the country including 15 notable women such as Hansaben Mehta, Durgabai Deshmukh, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur and Sucheta Kripalani. The Constitution they prepared, with the invaluable contributions of each of them, was our beacon. The values enshrined therein have been part of Indian philosophy since time immemorial,” he said.
“This trinity of ideals is lofty, noble and uplifting. They should not be confused with abstractions. Our history, not only of modern times but also of ancient times, reminds us that they are real; that they can be made, and indeed have been made at different times. Our ancestors and founders of our modern nation exemplified the sense of justice, liberty, equality and brotherhood through hard work and an attitude of service. We just have to follow in their footsteps and keep walking,” he added.
Kovind cited Dr. Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar’s closing remarks to the Constituent Assembly where he emphasized the distinction between political democracy and social democracy.
“What does social democracy mean? It means a way of life that recognizes liberty, equality and fraternity as principles of life.
“These principles of liberty, equality and fraternity should not be treated as separate elements in a trinity. They form a union of trinity in the sense that to divorce each other is to defeat the very purpose of democracy,” Kovind said quoting Ambedkar.
Kovind also took a trip down memory lane and recalled his early days when the country had just gained independence and said, “There was a new wave of energy to rebuild the country; there were new dreams. I too had a dream, that one day I would be able to meaningfully participate in this nation-building exercise.
“A young boy living in a mud house could have had no idea of the highest constitutional office in the Republic. But it is a testament to the strength of Indian democracy that it has created avenues for every citizen to participate in shaping our collective destiny.
“If this Ram Nath Kovind from the village of Paraunkh speaks to you today, it is only because of the inherent power of our vibrant democratic institutions,” he said.