In her address to the nation on the eve of the 76th Independence Day, the country’s first tribal chairwoman said a ‘common thread’ binds the Indian people, who are known for their diversity, and inspires them to work together .
“As we celebrate Independence Day, we are celebrating our ‘Bharatiyata’. Our country is full of diversity. But at the same time, we all have something in common. It is this common thread that unites us all and inspires us to walk with the spirit of Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat,” Murmu said.
The president, who is the second female occupant of Rashtrapati Bhavan, said the “girls” were the “greatest hope for the nation”, and hailed their rise in all disciplines and fields, from “fighter pilots to space scientists.
Gender inequalities are diminishing and women are breaking many glass ceilings, Murmu said. The change is visible on the ground, including in the political system – there are more than 14,000 women elected to Panchayati Raj institutions today, she said.
Many international leaders and experts were skeptical about the success of democracy in India, a country plagued by poverty and illiteracy after independence, Murmu said. “But we Indians have proven the doubters wrong. Democracy has not only taken root in this soil, it has also been enriched by it.
Unlike some well-established democracies, India embraced universal adult suffrage early on, even though in many countries women won the vote after long struggles, she said.
“The creators of modern India enabled every adult citizen to participate in the collective process of nation building. Thus, India can be credited with helping the world discover the true potential of democracy,” the President said.
The deepening of democratic traditions is no coincidence, Murmu said. Indian civilization has been defined by “the equality of all and the unity of all” from the beginning – values that were rediscovered by leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, she said.
In his approximately 15-minute speech, Murmu recalled the words of the Kannada poet Kuvempu: “I will pass, you too, but on our bones will rest the great tale of a new India”. This, she said, was a “clarion call” to sacrifice for the country and uplift one’s fellow citizens.
Crediting the government for bringing ‘simplicity’ to people’s lives through its welfare initiatives, Murmu said the country is witnessing a ‘transformation’ in healthcare, education and the economy , for the work is done in the spirit of the nation first.
The key word for India today is “compassion – for the oppressed, for the needy and for those on the margins,” the president said. She specifically praised programs such as Prime Minister Awas Yojana, Jal Jeevan Mission and Prime Minister Gati Shakti Yojana.
But above all, she said, the government and policymakers deserve credit for “beating the global trend and helping the economy to thrive” despite the Covid-19 pandemic, which uprooted lives and livelihoods.
“In the fight against the pandemic, our achievements have been better than those of many developed countries. For this achievement, we are grateful to our scientists, doctors, nurses, paramedics and personnel associated with vaccination,” Murmu said. The “growing number of unicorns”, she said, is a shining example of India’s economic progress.
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The president, who is from the Santhal tribe, said the government’s decision to observe November 15 as Janjatiya Gaurav Divas is welcome “because our tribal heroes are not just local or regional icons; they inspire the whole nation”.
At a time when the world is facing the challenge of environmental protection, India can lead the way with its traditional way of life, Murmu said, stressing the need to conserve water, soil and biodiversity from the country.
“In 2047, we will have fully realized the dreams of our freedom fighters. We will have given concrete form to the vision of those who, led by Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar, drafted the Constitution. We are already on track to build an Atmanirbhar Bharat, an India that has realized its true potential,” she said.