Speaking about the COVID pandemic, the President has cautioned that the intensity of the pandemic might have come down, but the coronavirus has not yet gone away. He said country is yet to come out of the devastating effects of its recurrence this year. He praised the corona warriors, doctors, nurses and health workers, the administrators, and others, who risked everything to contain the impact of the second wave.
President Kovind said the spirit of patriotism and sacrifice was paramount among country’s freedom fighters. They faced all kinds of challenges without caring for their own interests. He said similarly COVID warriors also took enormous risks to protect others. He conveyed his profound appreciation for all such COVID warriors.
Mr Kovind said the second wave brought country’s public healthcare infrastructure under stress and all efforts were made on war-footing to plug the gaps. He stated that the leadership rose to the challenge, and the government’s endeavours were supplemented by initiatives of the states, private sector healthcare facilities, the civil society and others. In this extraordinary mission, foreign nations shared the essentials generously, just as India had reached out to many nations with medicine, equipment and vaccines. Mr Kovind expressed gratefulness to the global fraternity that came forward to help India during the crisis.
Despite the government’s efforts to control the pandemic, the President stressed that people should not let their guard down. He said vaccines are the best possible protection science offers to people. Under the world’s biggest vaccination campaign going on in the country, more than 50 crore citizens have been vaccinated so far. Mr Kovind urged all eligible citizens who are yet to get vaccinated to do so at the earliest and also inspire others.
Touching upon the aspect of economic impact of the pandemic, Mr Kovind said government has been concerned about the lower middle class and the poor, as well as about the small and medium industries. He said it has been sensitive to the needs of the labourers and of employers who have been facing hardships due to the lockdowns and movement restrictions. He said government took a series of relief measures last year as well as this year. The government had distributed food grains to about 80 crore people in May and June this year and the benefit has been extended till Diwali. Moreover, the government has announced a new stimulus package worth 6 lakh 28 thousand crore rupees to boost select Covid-affected sectors. He said it is heartening to note that an amount of 23 thousand 220 crore rupees is being spent over one year for expansion of medical facilities.
Mr Kovind said it is heartening to note that rural India, particularly the agriculture sector, has kept growing against all odds. He said that during a recent visit to his ancestral village Paraunkh in Kanpur Dehat, he was pleased to find that better infrastructure is being developed to make life easier for people in rural areas. He added that the psychological distance between the urban and the rural is now much less as compared to the past. He said after all, India lives in its villages which cannot be allowed to lag behind in development and that is why, special campaigns including Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, are being implemented for the welfare of farmers.
The President said these efforts are consistent with the vision of an Atma Nirbhar Bharat, a self-reliant India. He also said the series of agricultural marketing reforms will empower country’s farmers and help them get better price for their produce.
Highlighting the importance of Parliamentary democracy, President Kovind said Parliament is the temple of democracy which provides highest forum to discuss, debate and decide issues for the well-being of the people. He said it is a matter of great pride for all Indians that Parliament will soon be housed in a new building. He added that it will be a fitting statement of country’s outlook and will honour India’s legacy while also walking in step with the contemporary world. He added that it is more than symbolic that the new building will be inaugurated in the year of the 75th anniversary of Independence.
Mr Kovind said the government has planned many initiatives to make this special year memorable, and the most exciting of them might be the Gaganyaan mission. Pilots of the Indian Air Force have been receiving training abroad for this. The President said India will become the fourth nation on the planet to carry out a manned space mission when they fly off into space. He exuded pride that when it comes to the flights of country’s ambitions, India does not let any limitation define her.
The President also acknowledged that India still has a long way to go in realising the dreams of those who won the freedom for the country. He said India’s Constitution neatly summarises those dreams in four words: Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. He added that nation must strive for more equality in an unequal world, more justice in unjust circumstances.
Touching on the issue of climate change, Mr Kovind said modern industrial civilization has posed serious challenges before humankind. Climate change has become a reality of life, with seas rising, glaciers melting and temperatures soaring. He said India is proud of not only adhering to the Paris climate agreement but doing more than what the country has committed to protect the climate. However, he said, the world desperately needs a course correction. The President recalled Mahatma Gandhi’s words that learning the art of living in tune with nature requires effort, but once one establishes a relationship with rivers and mountains, birds and animals, nature reveals its secrets to them. The President asked people to resolve to listen to this message of Gandhiji.