President’s Republic Day address highlights need for a tolerant society

Attending National Day celebrations is a ritual they must attend. The flag-hoisting ceremony is an occasion the community reminisces with nostalgic pride – the long struggle for independence and sacrifices made to claim the nationhood.

This 26th January was the 69th Republic Day the community celebrated at the Indian Consulate in Sydney. The large hall was packed, many among the participants were seniors and representing all denominations.

The President’s message after flag-hoisting and national anthem was read by senior Consul Chandru Appar, the highlight of the message being a call for a civic-minded society where disagreements were resolved with dignity.

The new President, Ram Nath Kovind, in his maiden address, wished all the nation’s people, who, he said, were its ultimate stakeholders and pillars, a happy Republic Day.

He related liberty in independent India with its Constitution bringing equality and the principle of fraternity. “They saw the Constitution not just as a basic law for a new nation, but as a scripture for social transformation,” the President said.

“The lessons from that formative period, the period that gave shape to our Republic, serves us well to this day. They serve us well in whatever we do, wherever we work, whichever goal we aim for. These lessons continue to spur our nation-building project,” Mr Kovind said.

The President emphasized that there should be equal opportunities for women, “same rights and the same access to education and healthcare as boys”.

For young India that is represented by more than 60 per cent youth below 35 years of age, Mr Govind said, there were many programmes and initiatives to enable them to compete in a globalised world.

“A civic-minded nation is built by civic-minded neighbourhoods, whether in our cities or our villages. Where we respect the next-door person’s space, privacy and rights. Where we do not inconvenience our neighbours ”“ while celebrating a festival or while resorting to a protest or on any other occasion. Where one can disagree with another viewpoint ”“ or even with a historical context – without mocking a fellow citizen’s dignity and personal space. This is fraternity in action,” the President said, probably in the context of recent controversy over Bollywood movie, Padmavat.

After the President’s message there was a cultural segment of classical dances and patriotic songs in the spirit of celebrating the national day.

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