Guard against intolerance, embrace consensus: President

New Delhi, Jan 25 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday urged Indians to shun “violence, intolerance and unreason” and said that decision making must be based on cooperation and consensus-building.

In his annual Republic Day eve address, the president also said that while rebellion was also a virtue of democracy, “let us also applaud what our democracy has achieved” since independence in 1947.

Saying reverence for the past was one of the essential ingredients of nationalism, he said that it was important to ensure that all citizens got justice, equality, and gender and economic equity.

“When grim instances of violence hit at these established values which are at the core of our nationhood, it is time to take note,” he said.

“We must guard ourselves against the forces of violence, intolerance and unreason.”

The president said that to revitalize the forces of growth, the country needed reforms and progressive legislation.

“It is the bounden duty of the law makers to ensure that such legislation is enacted after due discussion and debate.

“A spirit of accommodation, cooperation and consensus-building should be the preferred mode of decision-making.”

Saying no one nation could be an oasis of growth, he pointed out that India’s economy also faced the blowback. Nature was also unkind to India last year, he added, referring to drought and floods, affecting rural income and employment.

India, he said, was building and implementing strategies to solve these problems.

“This year, with an estimated growth rate of 7.3 percent, India is poised to become the fastest growing large economy. Contraction in global oil prices has helped maintain external sector stability and control domestic prices. Despite occasional setbacks, industrial performance this year has been strong.”

Mukherjee said there “will be, amongst us, occasional doubters and baiters. Let us continue to complain; to demand; to rebel. This too is a virtue of democracy.

“But let us also applaud what our democracy has achieved.”

He said with investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, health, education, science and technology, India was positioning itself to achieve a higher growth rate which in 10-15 years will help banish poverty.

The president said that as the 20th century ended with a remarkable revolution in science and technology, there were reasons for optimism that the 21st century would see the last of extreme poverty.

“That optimism has faded in the first 15 years of this century,” he said, adding the scourge of terrorism had reshaped war into its most barbaric manifestation.

“Terrorism is inspired by insane objectives, motivated by bottomless depths of hatred, instigated by puppeteers who have invested heavily in havoc through the mass murder of innocents.

“This is war beyond any doctrine, a cancer which must be operated out with a firm scalpel. There is no good or bad terrorism; it is pure evil.”

He said terrorists seek to undermine order by rejecting the very basis of strategic stability, “which are recognized borders. If outlaws are able to unravel borders, then we are heading towards an age of chaos”.

Without taking any country’s name, the president said that there were bound to be disputes among nations.

“As is well-known, the closer we are to a neighbour the higher the propensity for disputes. There is a civilized way to bridge disagreement; dialogue, ideally, should be a continual engagement.

“But we cannot discuss peace under a shower of bullets.”

The president lauded the many government schemes including Aadhaar, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, the Digital India programme, the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana and MGNREGA.

The Make-in-India campaign, he said, will boost manufacturing by facilitating easy conduct of business and improving competitiveness of domestic industry.

“The Start-up India programme will foster innovation and encourage new-age entrepreneurship. The National Skill Development Mission envisages skilling 300 million youth by 2022.”

The president ended his speech with Tagore’s immortal words:

Move ahead, the roll of drums announce your triumphal march;
With feet of glory, you shall cut out your own path;
Delay not, delay not, a new age dawns.

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