New Indian President calls for selflessness in society
Photo : President Ram Nath Kovind
Port-of-Spain: Newly-elected President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind has called for selflessness in Indian society. He underlined this point in an address marking India’s 70th anniversary of Independence, August 15, 2017. The speech was read by Indian High Commissioner, Shri Bishawdip Dey at India House before a packed assembly of Indians.
“It is natural for us to think of our families, but we must also think of society. We must heed the call for that extra degree of selflessness, that extra something beyond just duty. A mother who nurtures and brings up her child is not just doing a duty. She is displaying a unique selflessness,” the President’s message read.”
He reflected on those Indians whose works helped to fit India as a new nation. “From the earliest days of our freedom, Mahatma Gandhi emphasized the moral character of India and of Indian society. The principles that Gandhiji spoke about are relevant even today. Gandhiji was not alone in this nationwide struggle for freedom and reform. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose exhorted our people-- Give me blood and I will give you freedom – at his word, millions of Indians joined the freedom movement under his leadership and gave their all.”
Kovind pointed out that the Indian people need to draw inspiration from India’s freedom fighters, many of whom sacrificed even their lives for the country, and India needs to have the same spirit today in the task of nation building.
“The stress on the moral basis of policy and action, belief in unity and discipline, faith in a synthesis of heritage and science, and promotion of the rule of law and of education—all of it was located in a partnership between citizen and government. This is how our nation has been built—by a partnership between citizen and government, between individual and society, between a family and the wider community,” High Commissioner Dey read.
“A tradition I remember from my childhood was that when there was a wedding in any one family, the entire village shared the responsibility and contributed. Regardless of the caste or community, the bride became the daughter of not just a single family, but of the entire village. Neighbours and others living in the village looked after the guests, and took charge of different arrangements. Contributions came from many families. One family would send food-grains for the wedding, another would send vegetables, a third would arrive with some other item,” Kovind said.
“There was a sense of sharing, and of interdependence. If you helped your neighbours in their times of need, they instinctively helped you in turn. Today, in big cities we may not even know our neighbours. Whether in cities or in villages, it is important to renew that sense of caring and sharing. This will make us a gentler and happier society and help us understand each other with greater empathy. The spirit of empathy and of social service and volunteerism is very much alive in India. There are so many people and organizations that work quietly and diligently for the poor and the disadvantaged,” Kovind reiterated.
President Kovind spells out the meaning of compassionate society. “A compassionate society is one that enriches our human capital and equips our young people by promoting accessible, affordable and world class educational institutions; and where quality health-care and nutrition are not a challenged. A compassionate and egalitarian society does not discriminate on gender or religious background.”
He added: “A compassionate society is one that enriches human capital and equips our young people by promoting accessible, affordable and world class educational institutions; and where quality health-care and nutrition are not a challenge.”
“We also need to adopt technology. We must use technology to empower our people and achieve the goal of poverty elimination in a single generation. Poverty and New India are not simply compatible,” he noted.
“Today, the world is looking at India with admiration. Our country is seen as a responsible global citizen, a growing economy, and a solution provider to various international challenges—such as climate change, disasters, conflicts, humanitarian crises, radicalism and terrorism,” Kovind said.
“We are all stake-holders in this mission. If we achieve it, our country will change before our eyes. And we will become agents of this defining change,” he said.
Finally he invoked the words of Gautam Buddha, echoed some 2500 years ago: “Be a lamp unto yourself.”