Respected Shri Narayananji, Mr Vice President, Mr Prime Minister, Mr Deputy Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, Speaker of Lok sabha, Members of the Union Council of Ministers, Governors, Chief Ministers, Deputy Chairperson of Rajya Sabha, Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, Members of Parliament, Excellencies, friends and children — my greetings to all of you.
When I see in front of me, the distinguished dignitaries including a number of senior diplomats representing their countries and other eminent personalities, a beautiful Thiagarajaswamigal’s Keerthana in Sri Raga echoes from my heart: “Endaro Mahaanubhavalu andhariggi vandanamulu,” which means, “I salute all the great noble hearted human beings.”
I thank the members of Parliament and State Legislatures for having elected me. The endorsement I have received from the nation, giving me the responsibility to realise our shared dream of India with prosperity, harmony and strength is really overwhelming. Ten illustrious personages have adorned this office of the President and contributed to the nation building with their outstanding personal qualities.
I salute them all. While I assume the office of the President of Republic of India with humility and gratefully recognising the immense trust, the people of the country and the political system have resposed in me, I promise to endeavour to fulfill the aspirations of our people.
Indian civilisational heritage is built on universal spirit. India always stood for friendship and extends warm hands to the whole world.
We have made significant achievements in the last 50 years in food production, health sector, higher education, media and mass communication, industrial infrastructure, information technology, science and technology and defence. Our nation is endowed with natural resources, vibrant people and traditional value system. In spite of these resources, a number of our people are below the poverty line, undernourished and lack primary education itself. Our aim is to empower them to be poverty free, healthy and literate. A country needs to have the characteristics as defined in Thirukkural, composed over 2,000 years ago:
“Pini inmai Selvam Vilaivinbam Emam, aniyenba Nattirkiv vainthu. ”
That is, “The important elements that constitute a nation are: being disease free; wealth; high productivity; harmonious living and strong defence.” All our efforts should be focused towards building these five elements at various levels in a coherent and in an integrated manner. I am convinced that our nation with a strong, vibrant and billion plus population can contribute to realise these elements.
Today our country is facing challenges such as cross-border terrorism, certain internal conflicts and unemployment. To face these challenges, there must be a vision to ensure focused action of one billion citizens of this great country with varied capabilities.
What can be that vision? It can be none other than transforming India into a developed nation. Can the government alone achieve this vision? Now, we need a movement in the country. This is the time to ignite the minds of the people for this movement. We will work for it. We cannot emerge as a developed nation if we do not learn to transact with speed. I recall the saintly poet Kabir’s wisdom to us: “Kaal kare so aaj kar, aaj kare so ab “. that means, “What you want to do tomorrow do it today, and what you want to do today do it now.”
This vision of developed nation needs to be achieved with Parliamentary democracy, which is the core of our governance system. The basic structure of our Constitution has stood the test of time. I am confident that it will continue to be responsive to the demands of changing situations. The first and foremost task is to respect and uphold the Constitutional processes, in the best interest of our people and our nation, without fear or favour and with fairness and firmness.
India is a Union of States based on the framework of co-operative federalism. Within the co-operative framework, there is also a requirement to develop competitive strengths for the States so that they can excel at the national level and the global level. Competitiveness helps in ensuring economic and managerial efficiency and to be creative to meet new challenges. These are essential to survive and prosper in a fast changing world of today. In addition, in order to strengthen democratic processes and institution, we should all truly strive for substantive decentralisation.
I wish to emphasise my unflinching commitment to the principle of secularism, which is the cornerstone of our nationhood and which is the key feature of our civilisational strength. During the last one year I met a number of spiritual leaders of all religions. They all echoed one message, that is, unity of minds and hearts of our peple will happen and we will see the golden age of our country, very soon. I would like to endeavour to work for bringing about unity of minds among the divergent traditions of our country.
Along with speedy development aimed at elimination of poverty and unemployment, national security has to be recognised by every Indian as a national priority. Indeed, making India strong and self reliant — economically, socially and militarily — is our foremost duty to our motherland and to ourselves and to our future generations.
When the child is empowered by the parents, at various phases of growth, the child transforms into a responsible citizen. When the teacher is empowered with knowledge and experience, good young human beings with value systems take shape. When individual or a team is empowered with technology, transformation to higher potential for achievement is assured. When the leader of any institution empowers his or her people, leaders are born who can change the nation in multiple areas. When the women are empowered, society with stability gets assured. When the politcal leaders of the nation empower the people through visionary policies, the prosperity of the nation is certain. The medium for transformation to developed India is the empowerment at various levels with power of knowledge. A roadmap of realising this vision of developed India is in front of us.
At this juncture, I recall a beautiful though of Dr G G Swell, an eminent leader from the North East: “We must have a mental infrastructure. Mental infrastructure means sincerity of purpose, of vision, or purity of heart and mind.”