Against the backdrop of attacks on Dalits and minorities, President Pranab Mukherjee today said these incidents should be dealt with “firmly”, calling the violence against “weaker sections” that militate against the national ethos as “aberrations”.
His statement came in sharp contradiction to that of PM Modi’s comments asking the right-wing cow protection groups to stop their terror ‘only’ against Dalits. Modi had received widespread flak for allegedly making comments keeping the next year’s assembly elections in mind.
Coming down heavily on forces of intolerance, Mukherjee cautioned against “unmindful pursuit” of a divisive political agenda and polarising debates by groups and individuals, saying they lead to institutional “travesty” and constitutional “subversion”.
The President also made it clear that democracy was not just about exercising choice to elect government periodically.
In his address to the nation on the eve of India’s 70th Independence Day–his fifth since assuming office, the President asked authorities and Institutions of State Power to adhere to the “Maryada”(dignity) in discharge of their duties as established in this ancient Indian ethos.
“In these four years, I also saw with, some disquiet, forces of divisiveness and intolerance trying to raise their ugly head. Attacks on weaker sections that militate against our national ethos are aberrations that need to be dealt with firmly,” he said.
The President said the collective wisdom of our society and our polity gave him the confidence that such forces will remain marginalised and India’s remarkable growth story will continue uninterrupted.
“The great tree of liberty requires constant nourishment through the institutions of democracy. Disruptions, obstructionism and unmindful pursuit of a divisive political agenda by groups and individuals lead to nothing but institutional travesty and Constitutional subversion.
Polarising debates only deepen the fault lines in public discourse,” he said.
Mukherjee said the Constitution has clearly defined the duties and responsibilities of every organ of the state.
“It has established the ancient Indian ethos of “Maryada” as far as Authorities and Institutions of State power are concerned. The spirit of the Constitution has to be upheld by adherence to this “Maryada” by the functionaries in the discharge of their duties,” he said.
The President said India will grow, only when all of India grows.
“The excluded ones have to be included in the development process. The hurt and the alienated have to be brought back into the mainstream,” he added
Mukherjee said in this machine age, the only way to survive this is to acquire knowledge and skills, and learn to innovate.
“We as a nation must nurture creativity, science and technology. Here, our schools and institutions of higher learning have a special responsibility,” he said.
The President said India has had remarkable growth in recent times, often growing above eight percent per annum over the last decade.
Mukherjee said International agencies have acknowledged India’s status as the fastest growing major economy in the world and recognised major improvements in indices of ease of doing business and logistics performance.
“The start-up movement and the innovative spirit of our young entrepreneurs have also attracted international attention. We must build on our strengths so that, this lead can be sustained and furthered. A normal monsoon this year gives us reason to cheer, unlike the past two years when below normal rains created agrarian distress,” he said.
The President said the fact that despite two consecutive drought years, inflation has remained below six percent and agricultural output has been stable, is a testimony to our nation s resilience, and to how far country has progressed since Independence.