India capable of meeting aggression with a befitting reply: Prez

President Ram Nath Kovind said that the Covid-19 crisis had taught us that humanity put aside differences to save the planet
The “martyrs” who died defending Galwan valley from the designs of “expansionist” neighbours found mention in the Independence Day-eve speech of President Ram Nath Kovind, alongside tributes to health workers and government officials who worked to keep systems up and running during the pandemic.

He referred to the beginning of construction of the Ram temple as a project that was achieved through the judicial system and congratulated all citizens for their restraint, referring only obliquely to all that could have happened and didn’t. He reminded India the public health infrastructure needed to be given much more attention.

The President (also the supreme commander of the armed forces) referred to the stand-off at the Line of Actual Control, where 20 Indian armed forces personnel were killed, and warned that if India sought peace everywhere in the world, it was also capable of meeting aggression with a befitting reply. “Those worthy sons of ‘Bharat Mata’ lived and died for national pride. The entire nation salutes the martyrs of Galwan Valley. Every Indian feels grateful to their family members,” he said. 
The President said the pandemic had taught the world several lessons. “It has been the tradition of India that we do not just live for ourselves, but work for the wellbeing of the entire world. India’s self-reliance means being self-sufficient without alienating or creating distance from the world. It implies that India will continue to engage with the world economy while maintaining its identity,” he said, while praising the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government for its many initiatives to address the needs of the poor.

Migrant labour and its travails were also mentioned by Kovind and he noted that the government had extended free rations to all poor till November and was working towards universalisation of ration cards across India. He said the crisis had fostered reform and referred to the changes in agricultural procurement policies as an illustration.

The President said human-centric rather than economic-centric collaboration was more appropriate and the health crisis had taught us that humanity put aside differences and collaborated to save the planet. 

He also said: “Coronavirus does not recognise any artificial divisions created by human society. This reinforces the belief that we need to rise above all man-made differences, prejudices, and barriers. Compassion and mutual help have been adopted as basic values by the people in India. We need to further strengthen this virtue in our conduct. Only then can we create a better future for all of us.”

He emphasised the relevance of science and technology, that proved the crucial connecting link when social contact was not possible. The President was especially appreciative of the New Education Policy and said instruction in the mother tongue would enable young minds to grow spontaneously, while strengthening and enriching Indian languages. The President’s speech was a pep talk and the underlying note was: This too shall pass. As always, he avoided striking any contentious note and promised all Indians a better future.

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