In her maiden Address to the Nation on the eve of Republic Day, President Droupadi Murmu on Wednesday said India is now being seen with “new respect” on the global stage.
She lauded the linguistic diversity of the country, founders of the Constitution for giving a moral framework, and commended the roles of farmers, workers, scientists and engineers whose combined strength enables India to live up to the spirit of “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Vigyan, Jai Anusandhan”.
Asserting that the world looked at India now with a “new respect”, she pointed to the country’s leadership of G20 and said it was an ideal platform to discuss and find solutions to “most pressing” problems such as global warming and climate change that were affecting the poor the most. The President said after a series of initiatives in recent years to transform all aspects of governance and unleash the creative energies of the people, the world has started to look at India with a new sense of respect.
"Our interventions in various world forums have started making a positive difference. The respect that India has earned on the world stage has resulted in new opportunities as well as responsibilities," she said.
President Murmu said, "Under India's leadership, I am sure, G20 will be able to further enhance its efforts to build a more equitable and sustainable world order." .
The President said G20 represents about two-thirds of the world population and around 85 per cent of the global GDP, and it is an ideal forum to discuss and find solutions for global challenges.
She also welcomed the new National Education Policy (NEP) saying it makes "our civilisational lessons relevant for contemporary life", while also preparing learners for the 21st century challenges.
"With the economy on a sound footing, we have been able to begin and carry forward a series of praiseworthy initiatives. The ultimate goal is to create an environment in which all citizens can, individually and collectively, realise their true potential and prosper. As education builds the right foundation for this purpose, the National Education Policy has introduced ambitious changes," she said.
She said the founding document is inspired by the humanistic philosophy of the oldest living civilisation in the world as well as new ideas that emerged in more recent history.
"The nation will always remain grateful to Dr B R Ambedkar, who headed the Drafting Committee of the Constitution, and thus had a critical part in giving it the final shape. On this day, we should also remember the role of jurist BN Rau, who had prepared the initial draft, and other experts and officers who helped in making of the Constitution," she said. The President said such a vast and diverse multitude of people coming together as one nation remains unprecedented.
"We did so with a belief that we are, after all, one; that we are all Indians. We have succeeded as a democratic republic because so many creeds and so many languages have not divided us, they have only united us. That is the essence of India," she said.
Murmu said the essence was at the heart of the Constitution, which has withstood the test of time.
"The Constitution that started governing the life of the Republic was the outcome of the Freedom Struggle. The national movement, led by Mahatma Gandhi, was as much about winning Independence as about rediscovering our own ideals," she said.
Those decades of struggle and sacrifice "helped us win freedom" not only from colonial rule but also from the imposed values and narrow world-views, she said.
"Revolutionaries and reformers joined hands with visionaries and idealists to help us learn about our age-old values of peace, brotherhood and equality.
"Those who shaped the modern Indian mind also welcomed progressive ideas from abroad, following the Vedic advice...'Let noble thoughts come to us from all directions'. A long and profound thought process culminated in our Constitution," she said.
"To my mind, global warming and climate change are the most pressing among them. Global temperatures are rising and incidents of extreme weather are increasing... Unfortunately, the poor bear the brunt of global warming more than others," she said. The President said India is faced with the dilemma of lifting more and more people out of poverty which is possible through economic growth but that also comes from fossil fuels. She said one of the solutions to the conundrum is promoting the use of alternative energy sources.
"India has taken a commendable lead in this direction by giving a policy push to solar energy and electric vehicles. At the global level, however, emerging economies need a helping hand from advanced nations in the form of technology transfer and financial support," Murmu said.
Murmu, the first President from the tribal community, said to balance development and the environment, we have to look at the ancient traditions with a new perspective.
"We need to reconsider our basic priorities. The scientific aspects of traditional life-values have to be understood. We must, once again, rekindle that respect for nature and humility before the vast universe," she said.
The President said Mahatma Gandhi was a true prophet of our times, as he foresaw the calamities of indiscriminate industrialisation and cautioned the world to mend its ways.
Reminding that the United Nations have accepted India's call for declaring 2023 as an International year of millets, Murmu said "we used to take millets earlier" which we are using again. She said the millet grain is "good for health and good for environment" as it can be grown with the minimum water.
On the Covid-19, she said India dealt with the virus very competently but it "comes back in different forms".
The President said during Covid-19 the Government ensure "food security" for 81 crore people. She said in 2023 also free monthly ration is assured to the poor of the country.
The President assured that people need not worry if Covid raises its head again as the country has an able and efficient administrator to nail it down. She, though, advocated that people continue to adopt caution. Murmu paid tribute to the "brave soldiers" and said they sacrificed their lives to make the country's border safe. "I bow before them", she said.