India@69: President Kovind bats for a cohesive India where you can disagree

president-kovind-rdayUnveiling his vision of a tolerant and modern India, India’s President Ram Nath Kovind has espoused the right “to disagree with another viewpoint” in his Republic Day eve address, and called for a robust nation-building process that would contribute to a “composite and cohesive world”.

Speaking on the eve of India’s 69th Republic Day, the president spoke about many facets of a nation – one of happy and equal-opportunity, innovation, civic-mindedness, selflessness, cultural vibrancy, discipline and moral uprightness – that together make up a “modern India that is both a land of talent – and a land of unlimited opportunities for that talent”.

In a veiled allusion to a raging controversy around the screening of the film Padmaavat which has triggered violence in parts of India, President Kovind underscored the need to maintain harmony through respect of one another’s viewpoint, as against the divisiveness that marks the society at present. “Where one can disagree with another viewpoint – or even with a historical context – without mocking a fellow citizen’s dignity and personal space. This is fraternity in action”, he said.

“A civic-minded nation is built by civic-minded neighbourhoods. Where we respect the next-door person’s space, privacy and rights. Where we do not inconvenience our neighbours while celebrating a festival or while resorting to a protest or on any other occasion”, he said.

“The promise of a developed India beckons us. This is a new stage of our nation-building project on which we have embarked. This is the republic that our young people need to take forward and enhance- in keeping with their vision, their ambition and their ideals”, he said.

Speaking about strengthening the education system to empower the youth, the president said, “Our aspiration must be to reform, upgrade and enlarge our education system – and to make it relevant to 21st century realities of the digital economy, genomics, robotics and automation.”

 

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