PRESIDENT’SADDRESS TO THE NATION
ONTHE EVE OF THE REPUBLIC DAY 2014
RashtrapatiBhavan: January 25, 2014
My Fellow Citizens:
On the eve of 65th Republic Day, I extend warm greetings to all of you in India andabroad. I convey my special greetings to members of our Armed Forces,Paramilitary Forces and Internal Security Forces.
2. TheRepublic Day commands the respect of every Indian. On this day, sixty fouryears ago, in a remarkable display of idealism and courage, we the people of India gave toourselves a sovereign democratic republic to secure all its citizens justice,liberty and equality. We undertook to promote among all citizens fraternity,the dignity of the individual and the unity of the nation. These ideals becamethe lodestar of the modern Indian State. Democracybecame our most precious guide towards peace and regeneration from the swamp ofpoverty created by centuries of colonial rule. Fromwithin the spacious provisions of our Constitution, India has grown into a beautiful, vibrant, and sometimes noisy democracy. Forus, the democracy is not a gift, but the fundamental right of everycitizen; for those in power democracy is a sacred trust. Those who violate thistrust commit sacrilege against the nation.
3. Somecynics may scoff at our commitment to democracy but our democracy has neverbeen betrayed by the people; its fault-lines, where they exist, are thehandiwork of those who have made power a gateway to greed. We dofeel angry, and rightly so, when we see democratic institutions being weakenedby complacency and incompetence. If we hear sometimes an anthem of despairfrom the street, it is because people feel that a sacred trust isbeing violated.
4. Corruptionis a cancer that erodes democracy, and weakens the foundations of our state. IfIndians are enraged, it is becausethey are witnessing corruption and waste of national resources. If governmentsdo not remove these flaws, voters will remove governments.
5. Equally dangerous isthe rise of hypocrisy in public life. Elections do not give any personthe licence to flirt with illusions. Those who seek the trust of voters mustpromise only what is possible. Government is not a charity shop. Populistanarchy cannot be a substitute for governance. False promises lead todisillusionment, which gives birth to rage, and that rage has one legitimatetarget: those in power.
6. Thisrage will abate only when governments deliver what they were elected todeliver: social and economic progress, not at a snail's pace, but withthe speed of a racehorse. The aspirational young Indian will not forgive abetrayal of her future. Those in office must eliminate the trust deficitbetween them and the people. Those in politics should understand that everyelection comes with a warning sign: perform, or perish.
7. Iam not a cynic because I know that democracy has this marvellous abilityto self-correct. It is the physician that heals itself, and 2014 mustbecome a year of healing after the fractured and contentious politics of thelast few years.
My Fellow Citizens:
8. The last decade witnessed the emergence ofIndia as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The slowdown of oureconomy in the last two years can be some cause for concern but none fordespair. The green shoots of revival are already visible. The agriculturalgrowth in the first half of this year has touched 3.6 per cent and ruraleconomy is buoyant.
9. 2014 is a precipice moment in our history.We must re-discover that sense of national purpose and patriotism, which liftsthe nation above and across the abyss; and back on to the road of prosperity.Give the young jobs and they will raise the villages and cities to 21st century standards. Give them a chance and you will marvel at the India they cancreate.
10. This chance will not come if India does notget a stable government. This year, we will witness the 16th GeneralElection to our Lok Sabha. A fracturedgovernment, hostage to whimsical opportunists, is always an unhappyeventuality. In 2014, it could be catastrophic. Each one of us is avoter; each one of us has a deep responsibility; we cannot let India down. Itis time for introspection and action.
11. India is not just a geography: itis also a history of ideas,
philosophy, intellect, industrial genius, craft, innovation,
and experience. The promise of India has sometimes been mislaid by misfortune; at other times by our own complacenceand weakness. Destiny has given us another opportunity to recover what we havelost; we will have no one to blame but ourselves if we falter.
12. A democratic nation is always involved inargument with itself. This is welcome, for we solve problems through discussionand consent, not force. But healthy differences of opinion must not lead to anunhealthy strife within our polity. Passions are rising over whether we shouldhave smaller states to extend equitable development to all parts of a state. Adebate is legitimate but it should conform to democratic norms. The politics ofdivide and rule has extracted a heavy price on our subcontinent. If we do notwork together, nothing ever will work.
13. India must find its own solutionsto its problems. We must be open to all knowledge; to do otherwise would be tocondemn our nation to the misery of a stagnant mire. But we should not indulgein the easy option of mindless imitation, for that can lead us to a garden ofweeds. India has the intellectual prowess, the human resource and financial capital to shapea glorious future. We possess a dynamic civil society with an innovativemindset. Our people, whether in villages or cities, share a vibrant, uniqueconsciousness and culture. Our finest assets are human.
14. Education has been an inseparable part ofthe Indian experience. I am not talking only of the ancient institutions ofexcellence like Takshashila or Nalanda, but of an age as recent as the 17thand 18th centuries. Today, our higher educationalinfrastructure consists of over 650 universities and 33,000 colleges. Thequality of education has to be the focus of our attention now. We can be worldleaders in education, if only we discover the will and leadership to take us tothat pinnacle. Education is no longer just the privilege of the elite, but auniversal right. It is the seed of a nation’s destiny. We must usher in aneducation revolution that becomes a launching pad for the national resurgence.
15. I am being neither immodest, norbeating a false drum, when I claim that India can become an example to theworld. Because, the human mind flourishes best when it is, as the great sageRabindranath Tagore said, free from fear; when it has the liberty to roaminto spheres unknown; in search of wisdom; and when the people have thefundamental right to propose as well as oppose.
My Fellow Citizens:
16. There will be a new government before Ispeak to you again on the eve of our Independence Day. Who wins the comingelection is less important than the fact that whosoever wins must have anundiluted commitment to stability, honesty, and the development of India. Ourproblems will not disappear overnight. We live in a turbulent part of the worldwhere factors of instability have grown in the recent past. Communal forces andterrorists will still seek to destabilize the harmony of our people and theintegrity of our state but they will never win. Our security and armed forces,backed by the steel of popular support, have proved that they can crush anenemy within; with as much felicity as they guard our frontiers. Mavericks whoquestion the integrity of our armed services are irresponsible and should findno place in public life.
17. India's true strength lies in herRepublic; in the courage of her commitment, the sagacity of her Constitution,and the patriotism of her people. 1950 saw the birth of our Republic. I am surethat 2014 will be the year of resurgence.