August 15, 2001, Chandigarh, India
President for balance
between freedom, social justice
New Delhi, August 14
In his traditional address to the nation on the eve of Independence Day, the President said the biggest achievement in the past 54 years of independence had been the “patient building up of democracy and unity in the midst of bewildering diversities and overwhelming difficulties.”
However, the achievement of unity and democracy had been hitched to an unprecedented experiment in social democracy, he said. It is imperative that we should strive to maintain this balance between freedom and justice”, he said.
“It is this essential and basic balance at the heart of our system that has enabled us to continue to serve our poverty-stricken people in the face of the tidal wave of globalisation that is sweeping the world today,” the President said in his address, the shortest since Independence.
The address to the nation did not refer to the recent developments in the region and the growing spectre of cross-border terrorism and the consequent escalation in violence in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the country.
Independent observers here also said the President had sought to underplay the problems within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition government which recently provoked the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to offer his resignation if the constituents did not work in a cohesive manner.
The President said this unity had not been brought about by blood and iron but by the softer and more enduring methods of tolerance and humane approach and through the gentle and genuine methods of democracy.
He said the past five decades, despite all shortcomings and frustrations, had been the single largest period of India’s history when “relative peace, progress and sense of unity prevailed in this vast country with hope rising in the minds of millions of people”.
It is possible to find a hundred faults and failures during the post-Independence years, but the fact of our having made forward strides during this period has to be recognised because it is only then we can build a better and brighter India”, he said.
The President called upon the people to remember with gratitude and pride the freedom fighters and the founding fathers of the republic who sacrificed so much to gain independence. “We particularly remember Mahatma Gandhi who pitted his soul force and organised the power of our dumb millions against the mighty empire that ruled over us,” he said.
The President expressed his gratitude towards “the brave men of the defence and paramilitary forces who guard our frontiers, to our kisans, mazdoors, artisans and entrepreneurs, our teachers, doctors, engineers, scientists and technologists and the youth and women of India whose toil and hard work have put India among the front rank of the nations in the world, preserving the values of our ancient civilisation”.
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