I am privileged to release the Volumes of Selected Speeches of our Hon’ble President, Shri Ram Nath Kovindji, a friend, philosopher and guide to all of us. I am doubly honoured, as I had this pleasant duty of releasing the first volumes of his speeches as well.
At the outset I must congratulate Shri Prakash Javadekarji, Minister of Information & Broadcasting for his dynamic leadership and his excellent team in the Ministry for publishing this collection of speeches of our beloved President.
As the Head of the State, the First Citizen of our robust Republic, he represents the essence of the Nation, its vision, aspirations, expectations and, above all, its ethos. I have been following his erudite addresses, in which, I find an earnest call for inclusiveness I find in his statements a rare pragmatism, a close connect with our people and a vision for a new India.
I am pleased to note that this year also, the fascinating diversity of our nation is reflected through these speeches. Again, the overriding ethos of our country – the ethos of Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam – the world is one family reverberates through the wise words of our President.
We, as a country, have chosen the path of democracy to achieve a better quality of life for all people. The faith of Shri Kovindji in democratic values is unwavering. And he goes much deeper and reveals before us multiple aspects - layer after layer, when he delves into the vision of our republic. Addressing the nation on the eve of 70th Republic Day, he reaffirmed this faith in beautiful words, and I quote:
Our Republic’s vision is that of reaching democratic goals by democratic means, pluralistic goals by pluralistic means, enlightened goals by enlightened means, inclusive goals by inclusive means, compassionate goals by compassionate means – and constitutional goals by constitutional means.
This clarity of thought – this ability to analyse and synthesise – is evident in all speeches of the Hon’ble President – whether he is addressing the nation on landmark occasions; addressing his exalted audiences during his foreign visits or promoting the cause of education and inculcating values among the youth of this country.
The same spirit prevails when he reminds the contributions of our Annadaatas – thefarmers, our scientists and professions and above all our brave jawans.
He evokes the idea of excellence and exhorts young entrants of our bureaucracy to stand like a rock to safeguard our Constitutional ethos.
This is a profound collection of our President’s nuggets of wisdom. You find in this collection some excellent thoughts on national priorities, his fascination towards the diversity of national life, his visionary worldview, his commitment towards better education and better opportunities to all. They emphasize pursuit of excellence and good governance at every level and his concern and admiration for our brave defence forces, quite rightly, as their Supreme Commander. There is a special segment on Kovindji’s speeches commemorating Gandhiji – the embodiment of the idea of India.
Education is a recurring theme, reflected in many speeches of the Hon’ble President. For him, education is not about accumulating facts and figures. Education, for him, is an instrument of empowerment. He wants our Universities to be the powerhouses of progress towards a new India. He specially pins his hopes on our scientific institutions. Delivering the convocation address at IIT, Hyderabad he says- I quote-
“The best scientific universities and institutions of learning are not just teaching shops or degree factories. Increasingly, they are sources of innovation and incubators of technology and technology-driven start-ups.”
This is Shri Kovindji’s vision for optimum utilization of resources in a holistic manner to create eco-systems and incubators for progress – for start ups and ultimately, for a ‘New India.’
However, material gains apart, he never loses sight of the moral compass of education. Addressing on the occasion of the centenary celebrations of St. Thomas College, Trissur, he says, and I quote:
I have always believed that greatest service to God is to help another person, to heal another person and to spread the light of knowledge to another person. Unquote.
Being a seasoned and distinguished lawyer, Hon’ble President is aware of the power and challenges of the profession. Being a firm believer of social change through constitutional methods, Shri Kovind always emphasises the potential of legal profession in delivery of justice to the poorest of the poor – in wiping away the tears from the eyes of the most unfortunate. Addressing a function on the occasion of the platinum jubilee of Karnataka law society, Hon’ble President emphasises, and I quote:
Law is not a career, it is a calling. More than a mean to earn a livelihood, it is a mechanism to assist the cause of justice, to help the poorest and the most unfortunate among us, and to build a society and nation defined by adherence to rules, norms and fairness. Unquote.
The President expects a high level of commitment and empathy among the bureaucrats because they are crucial instruments of delivering the fruits of a democratic constitution to the masses. Last two years, he has inspired hundreds of young civil servants, belonging to various services, to become change agents delivering social justice and acting as custodians of constitutional ethic and rule of law. Addressing young officers of Indian Police Service, his observations are so pertinent and practical:
“In many ways, police represents and symbolises the quality of state itself. For a common citizen and visitor to a country, the impression of the state and governance is formed by their interactions with the traffic constable at the signal, the beat officer on neighbourhood patrol and the reception desk officer in a police station.”
These messages of concern and empathy, which are hallmarks of our national ethos, are reflected in Hon’ble President’s interaction abroad as well, symbolizing Indian ethos and India’s offer of friendship and camaraderie to all. Addressing the House of Representatives in Cyprus, he says, and I quote:
When we think for India and when we act for India, we try to think and act for the world. We are clear in our belief that the global village is an organic, integrated entity, where everybody, every nation, is part of an interlinked chain and contributes to each other’s prosperity. Unquote.
But one thing is clear in his mind. Goodwill should never be construed as weakness of our sovereign nation. As Supreme Commander of our glorious armed forces, President has unquestioned clarity in this matter. On the occasion of presenting standards to 118 Helicopter Unit and Colours to Air Defence College, he says, and I quote:
Though we remain firmly committed to peace, we are determined to use all our might to protect the sovereignty of our nation. Whenever an occasion demanded, our brave men and women in uniform have ensured that the nation has dealt with the security challenges forcefully and effectively. Unquote.
This year, indebted nation is celebrating 150th birth anniversary of Gandhiji and Hon’ble President is the Chairperson of National Commemoration Committee. At home and abroad, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, spread the message of Mahatma in beautiful words. He reminded India and the world the timeless wisdom of Gandhiji’s advice-
“The Mahatma gave us a talisman to judge any policy and indeed, any action - to assess if the proposed action would enhance the life, dignity and destiny of the poorest person we met. This is the talisman for all times, all places and all conditions.”
And lastly, to conclude, our best take-away today is perhaps, these noble hopes of our respected President, from his address to the joint session of Parliament, in June 2019, and I quote:
A New India: where equal opportunities to progress are available to every person; where life of every person becomes better and their self-esteem is enhanced; where brotherhood and harmony bind the people with each other; where the foundation built on our ideals and values become stronger; and where benefits of development reach every region and the last person standing in queue. Unquote.
This is an expression of a dream that every Indian is dreaming today. This is the ideal that we are trying to pursue. This is the vision that our Prime Minister has articulated in his numerous public speeches, the most recent being the Independence Day address on the 15th of August.
The President and I are on the same page.
We feel equally strongly about upholding values and ethics in public life.
We feel concerned at the persistence of social evils like untouchability, gender discrimination and socio-economic inequalities.
Our priorities for the nation converge at a number of points.
I strongly feel that India is at a crucial moment in its history where it can take the major leap forward towards inclusive development.
There are major challenges. There are formidable obstacles.
But we have a pool of extraordinary talent in our country. We have ideas and innovative capabilities. We must put together an eco-system that builds upon this excellent foundation.
A clean India, an educated skilled India, an innovative India, a fit India and a harmonious, strong, empowered India is a dream we all share.
The President of India gives an eloquent expression to some of these hopes and aspirations. The books is a testament of faith in the strength of India. It is a rejuvenating stream of ideas for us to understand the core of our republican ethic.
I congratulate Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and the Publications Division for this noble effort. It is heartening to see that the initiatives taken during my tenure in Ministry of I&B are being carried forward with devotion and due diligence. I congratulate Shri Amit Khare, Secretary, I&B, Smt. Sadhana Rout, Principal DG, Publications Division and the entire team in Publications Division for bringing out such excellently produced books. Let the good work continue. I am thankful to the presence of Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot ji, members of diplomatic corps, Secretaries to the Government of India and other dignitaries, and the very receptive audience.
I do hope we will all read these books and benefit from the President’s thoughts as we collectively build a Republican ethic we can all be proud of.