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In his Last Address, President Pranab Mukherjee Shines Light on India's Tolerance, Pluralism

We derive our strength from tolerance; it has been part of our collective consciousness for centuries, President Pranab Mukherjee in his last address to the nation said.

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Updated:July 25, 2017, 8:05 AM IST
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In his Last Address, President Pranab Mukherjee Shines Light on India's Tolerance, Pluralism
Outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee addressed the nation on Monday evening. (CNN-News18 grab)
New Delhi: Outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday evening delivered his last address to the nation in which he accentuated India's long tryst with tolerance, pluralism, and multiplicity in culture, faith and language.

The 81-year-old Mukherjee will hand over the baton to Ram Nath Kovind whom he congratulated for becoming the 14th President of the Republic of India.

President Mukherjee, throughout his speech, reminded the nation of its "soul, which resides in pluralism and tolerance."

"We must free our public discourse from all forms of violence, physical as well as verbal. Only a nonviolent society can ensure the participation of all sections of the people in the democratic process," Mukherjee said.

The power of non-violence has to be resurrected to build a compassionate and caring society, he said, adding "the capacity for compassion and empathy is the true foundation of our civilisation."

He recollected a speech he had delivered on the eve of Independence day on 2012 in which he said, "India asks each one of us in whatever role we play in the complex drama of nation building" to do their duty with integrity, commitment and loyalty enshrined in the Constitution.

"When I speak to you tomorrow, it will not be as the president but as a citizen -- a pilgrim like all of you in India's onward march towards glory," he said.

He said as one advanced in years, so did one's "propensity to sermonise".

"But I have no sermon to make. For the past fifty years of my public life, my sacred text has been the Constitution of India; my temple has been the Parliament of India; and my passion has been the service of the people of India," he said.

He emphasised that a modern nation was built on some essential fundamentals - democracy or equal rights for every citizen, secularism or equal freedom to every faith, equality of every region, and economic equity.

"For development to be real, the poorest of the land must feel that they are a part of the nation's narrative," he said.

He recalled a promise that he had made on the day he took over as the president -- of preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution, in word and spirit.

"Each day of these five years, I was conscious of my responsibility. I learnt from my travels across the length and breadth of the country. I learnt from my conversations with young and bright minds ...These interactions kept me focused and inspired," he said.

He "strove hard", he added, but how successful he was in discharging his responsibilities would "be judged, over time, by the critical lens of history".

(With inputs from PTI)

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