New Delhi: In his first Republic Day eve address, President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday asked the rich to renew India's age-old culture of philanthropy by voluntarily giving up their entitlements for those with greater need. He also said that youth were India's hope and only they could build a confident nation.
At the same time, the President also spoke of the need to move ahead rapidly on sustainable development goals like housing for all and the obligation to eliminate the curse of poverty in the shortest possible time.
"A confident and forward-looking nation is built by confident and forward-looking young people. Over 60 percent of our fellow citizens are below the age of 35. It is in them that our hopes lie," he said.
The President added that a nation with a sense of selflessness is built by citizens and by a society that embraces selflessness not because anybody has asked them to but because of a call from within.
"Where a better-off family voluntarily gives up an entitlement - it could be subsidised LPG today and some other entitlement tomorrow - so that another family, which has a greater need, can avail it," he said.
President Kovind urged all citizens to collate privileges and entitlements and "then look at less-privileged members of a similar background, those who are starting off from where we once started off.
"And let each of us introspect and ask - Is his need or her need greater than mine? The spirit of philanthropy and of giving is part of our age-old culture. Let us renew it," he said.
"A Republic is its people. Citizens do not just make and preserve a Republi, they are its ultimate stakeholders and in fact pillars. Each one of us is a pillar – the soldier who defends our Republic, the farmer who feeds our Republic, the forces that keep our Republic safe, the mother who nurtures our Republic, the doctor who heals our Republic, the nurse who tends to our Republic, the sanitation worker who makes our Republic cleaner and hygienic, the teacher who educates our Republic," President Kovind pointed out.
"The scientist who innovates for our Republic, the missile technologist who puts our Republic on a new trajectory, the wise tribal who conserves the ecology of our Republic; the engineer who re-imagines our Republic, the construction worker who builds our Republic," he went on to say.
The President said the highest stage of India's nation-building project lied in contributing towards building "a better world, a composite and cohesive world, a world at peace with itself and at peace with nature".
He added that this was the ideal spirit of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' of the world being one family".
"It is an ideal that may sound impractical in today's times of tensions and of terrorism. But it is an ideal that has inspired India for thousands of years - and that ideal can be felt in the very texture of our constitutional values. The principles of compassion, of assisting those in need, of building capacities of our neighbours or even of those further away, underpin our society. These are the very principles that we bring to the international community. He said the country needed to further improve the lives of its farmers who "like mothers toil to feed us," the President said.
At the same time, he stressed on the need to reform, upgrade and enlarge the education system to make it relevant to 21st-century realities of the digital economy, genomics, robotics and automation.
Talking about women empowerment, President Kovind said, "Governments can bring in policies and laws to ensure justice to women – but these policies and laws can only be made effective by families and communities that must hear the voices of our daughters. We cannot shut our ears to their urgings for change."
"A happy and equal-opportunity nation is built by happy and equal-opportunity families and communities. Families where girls have the same rights and the same access to education and healthcare as boys," he added.
The President emphasised that said while India has achieved a lot as a nation but much remained to be done before the country turns 70-year-old republic in 2020 and celebrates its 75th Independence anniversary in 2022
"These are special occasions and we must strive, in the manner of the leaders of our national movement and the framers of our Constitution, to build the edifice of a better India - an India where each and every citizen will be able to realise his or her full potential. An India that will reach its deserved pedestal in the 21st century," he said.
President Kovind signed off by saying, "The promise of a developed India beckons us. This is the 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."
(With IANS inputs)