Dear Fellow Citizens,
Greetings to all of you on the eve of the 72nd Republic Day of the world’s largest and most vibrant democracy. In this land of ours, enriched by diversity, with many festivals, our national festivals are celebrated by everyone with great patriotic fervour. We celebrate the national festival of the Republic Day with enthusiasm and express our respect for the national flag, and our faith in the Constitution.
This day has come to mean a lot to all Indians living within the country and abroad. Seventy-one years ago, on this very day, we the people of India adopted, enacted and gave to ourselves a unique Constitution. For all of us, then, this is the day to also pause and ponder over the core values that the Constitution propounds. These values – Justice, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity – outlined in the Preamble of our Constitution are sacred to all of us. Its abiding adherence is meant not only for those who are mandated to govern but for the people at large.
It is not without reason that the wise men and women who framed the Constitution chose to place these four terms at the very beginning of the Constitution to build the foundation on which the edifice of our democracy rests. In fact, these were the values that guided our freedom struggle. A galaxy of great leaders and thinkers like Bal Gangadhar ‘Tilak’, Lala Lajpat Rai, Mahatma Gandhi and Subhas Chandra Bose inspired our freedom struggle. They had diverse dreams of a magnificent future of the motherland, but common to their aspirations were these values: Justice, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.
I would like that we go further back into history and inquire why precisely these values guided our nation-builders. And the answer is obvious: This land and its inhabitants have cherished these ideals from the time immemorial. Justice, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity are perennial principles of our philosophy of life. They come to us from the dawn of this civilisation through an unbroken chain. It is, of course, the task of every generation to seek out the meaning of these values for its times. As the freedom fighters did in their day, so should we in our time. These key principles should light our path to development.
Every Indian salutes our farmers, who have made our vast and populous country self-reliant in food-grains and dairy products. Despite adversities of nature, numerous other challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic, our farmers sustained the agricultural production. A grateful nation is fully committed to the welfare of our farmers.
Just as our hardworking farmers ensure food security for the country, the brave soldiers of the armed forces ensure security of our national boundaries amid severest conditions. From the freezing cold at Siachen and Galwan valley in Ladakh with temperatures as low as minus 50 to 60 degree Celsius to the scorching heat in Jaisalmer with temperatures as high as 50 degree Celsius – on land, in the skies and at the vast coastal areas – our warriors are vigilant every moment. Every citizen feels proud about the bravery, patriotism and the spirit of sacrifice among our soldiers.
By their contribution to food security, national security, protection against disease and disasters and to different areas of development, our scientists have strengthened our national endeavours. From space to the farms, from educational institutions to hospitals, the community of scientists has enriched our life and work. Our scientists have been working day and night for decoding the Coronavirus and they have succeeded in developing the vaccine in record time. With this accomplishment, our scientists have added a glorious chapter of contribution to the well-being of humanity. Our scientists, along with doctors, administrators and people from other walks of life, have made major contribution in containing the virus and keeping the fatality rate lower in our country, compared to that in developed countries. Thus, all our farmers, soldiers and scientists deserve special appreciation and a grateful nation greets them on this auspicious occasion of the Republic Day.
Last year, as humanity almost came to a halt in the face of a calamity of gigantic proportions, I often found myself reflecting on the central message of the Constitution. Our effective response to the pandemic would not have been possible without our Constitutional value of ‘Fraternity’. Indians have been like a close-knit family, making exemplary sacrifices to protect each other in the face of the common enemy of Coronavirus.I am thinking here of doctors, nurses, paramedics, healthcare administrators and sanitation workers who put their own lives at risk to care for Covid-19 patients. Some of them even lost their lives. Along with them, about 1.5 lakh people became victims of this pandemic. I convey my condolences to the bereaved families. Our frontline Corona-warriors were ordinary citizens who turned out to be extraordinary. When the history of this tragic chapter, which is not yet over, is written, I am confident that the future generations will behold you all for the heroic response to the crisis for which no one could have truly prepared.
Given our country’s population density, diversity of cultural traditions, natural and geographical challenges, taking precautionary measures against Covid-19 was far more difficult for us. Yet, we have managed to check the spread of the virus to a large extent.