President Pranab Mukherjee addresses the nation on eve of 70th Independence Day
"Democracy is more than a periodic exercise of choices to elect the government. The great tree of liberty requires constant nourishment through the institutions of democracy "
Extending warm greetings to people across the country and abroad on the occasion of Independence Day, President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday said attacks on weaker sections that militate against our national ethos are aberrations that need to be dealt with firmly.
In his speech, Mukherjee also came out strongly against groups and individuals who pursue a divisive political agenda that leads to Constitutional subversion.
In his fifth August 14 address, Mukherjee said that in the last four years he 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.
"The collective wisdom of our society and our polity gives me the confidence that such forces will remain marginalized," he added.
India will celebrate its 70th Independence Day on Monday.
Democracy, the President underlined, was not just about elections.
"Disruptions, obstructionism and unmindful pursuit of a divisive political agenda by groups and individuals lead to nothing but institutional travesty and Constitutional subversion," he said.
"Polarizing debates only deepen the fault lines in public discourse."
The President, however, made no specific reference to the attacks on Dalits, communal tensions or the Kashmir unrest in his speech.
A unique feature of India, he pointed out, was "our respect for each other's cultures, values and beliefs.
"The very essence of plurality lies in cherishing our heterogeneity and valuing our diversity.
"In the network environment of today, a caring society can only be developed by harmonizing religion with modern science," Mukherjee added.
Calling for the promotion of scientific temper, he said: "We often celebrate the achievements of our ancient past but it would be wrong to rest on our laurels.
"It is much more important to look to the future," he said.
Indians, the President said, "must learn to challenge the status quo and refuse to accept inefficiency and slipshod work.
"In a competitive environment, a sense of immediacy and some impatience is a necessary virtue."
Mukherjee said that backed by a strong political will, the country must create a future which would economically empower 600 million youth, build a digital India, a start up India and a skilled India.
"India will grow, only when all of India grows. The excluded ones will have to be included in the development process. The hurt and alienated have to be brought back into the mainstream."
He said India has had remarkable growth in recent times, often growing above 8 per cent per annum over the last decade.
"We must build on our strengths so that, this lead can be sustained and furthered."
He said a normal monsoon this year gave reason to cheer unlike the past two years when below normal rains led to agrarian distress.
The President emphasized the importance of India's "neighbourbood first policy". South Asia must carve out a common destiny to march together.
Mukherjee denounced a rise in terrorism across the globe, with its roots in radicalization of people on the basis of religion.
"These forces apart from killing innocent people in the name of religion also threaten to disrupt geopolitical divides, which could prove disastrous for world peace.
"The inhuman, mindless and barbaric modus operandi of such groups have been visible in France, Belgium, United States, Nigeria, Kenya and closer home in Afghanistan and Bangladesh recently.
"These forces now pose a danger to the entire comity of nations. The world will have to fight them unconditionally and in one voice."