Delivering his farewell address to the nation, outgoing President Ram Nath Kovind said that the 21st century would be India’s and that the National Education Policy was laying down a path for the same along with necessary economic and health sector reforms.
President Kovind said the Covid-19 pandemic had underlined the need to further ‘improve the public healthcare infrastructure’ and he was glad that the government had accorded top priority to this task. “Once education and healthcare are in place, economic reforms will let citizens find the best course for their lives. I firmly believe that our country is getting equipped to make the 21st century, the century of India,” he said.
As first citizen, his advice to all fellow citizens would be to ‘take care of our environment, our land, air and water, for the sake of our children’.
The President also exhorted the younger generation to stay connected with their village or town, their schools and teachers saying that this connection with our roots has been ‘the essence of India’. President Kovind recalled his humble beginnings in a ‘kaccha’ (mud) house in Paraunkh village from Kanpur dehat and how it was a ‘testament to the strength of India’s democracy’ that it has created pathways to let each citizen take part in the shaping of our collective destiny. He also quoted the architect of India’ Constitution, BR Ambedkar, to point out that mere political democracy was insufficient and social democracy – which recognizes liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life was equally important.
These principles, he added, are still relevant and could help a common citizen discover the ‘joy of life’ beyond basic necessities. He said he felt ‘energised and enriched’ by his many interactions as President with extraordinary people from all walks of life from teachers to farmers to scientists.