"There will be a general election in our country before I have the privilege of addressing you again on the eve of our next independence day. This great festival of democracy, is an opportunity for us to elect a stable government which will ensure security and economic development," President Mukherjee said in his address to the nation on the eve of India's 67th Independence Day.
"Every election must become a crucial milestone in our nation's journey towards greater social harmony, peace and prosperity," he added.
President Mukherjee said democracy has given the nation and its people an opportunity to re-create another golden age.
"Let us not squander this extraordinary opportunity. The journey ahead calls for wisdom, courage and determination. We must work on across-the-board revival of our values and institutions. We must realize that rights go with responsibilities. We must re-discover the virtue of self-scrutiny and self-restraint," he said.
He urged the citizens of the country to use their conscience, their judgement and mind in deciding what is right.
Quoting from the Bhagvad Gita where the teacher propounds his views and then says, "yatha icchasi tatha kuru" (even as you choose, so you do. I do not wish to impose my views on you), Mukherjee said: "On your decisions rests the future of our democracy."
President Mukherjee further said democracy is much more than the right to vote every five years, adding that its essence is the aspirations of the masses, and its spirit must influence the responsibilities of the leaders and duties of the citizens every day.
"Democracy breathes through a vibrant Parliament, an independent judiciary, a responsible media, a vigilant civil society, and a bureaucracy committed to integrity and hard work. It survives through accountability, not profligacy. And yet, we have allowed unbridled personal enrichment, self-indulgence, intolerance, discourtesy in behavior and disrespect for authority to erode our work culture," President Mukherjee lamented.
" The biggest impact of the decay in the moral fiber of our society is on the hopes and aspirations of the young and the poor," he added, while quoting Mahatma Gandhi who had said, "politics without principles, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice".
"We have to pay heed to his advice as we work towards building a modern democracy. The ideals of patriotism, compassion, tolerance, self-restraint, honesty, discipline and respect for women have to be converted into a living force," he added.
Asserting that institutions are a mirror of national character, President Mukherjee said : "Today, we see widespread cynicism and disillusionment with the governance and functioning of institutions in our country. Our legislatures look more like combat arenas, rather than fora that legislate."
"Corruption has become a major challenge. The precious resources of the nation are being wasted through indolence and indifference. It is sapping the dynamism of our society. We need to correct this regression," he added.
President Mukherjee said the Indian Constitution provides a delicate balance of power between various institutions of the state.
"This balance has to be maintained. We need a Parliament that debates, discusses and decides. We need a judiciary that gives justice without delays. We need leadership that is committed to the nation and those values that made us a great civilization," said President Mukherjee.
"We need a state that inspires confidence among people in its ability to surmount challenges before us. We need a media and citizens who, even as they claim their rights, are equally committed to their responsibilities," he added.
President Mukherjee said that a re-ordering of the society can be brought about through the educational system.
"We cannot aspire to be a world class power without a single world class university. History records that we were the cynosure of the world once. Takshashila, Nalanda, Vikramashila, Valabhi, Somapura and Odantapuri comprised the ancient university system that dominated the world for eighteen hundred years beginning Sixth Century BC.," said President Mukherjee.
"They were a magnet for the finest minds and scholars in the world. We must seek to regain that space. A university is the banyan tree whose roots lie in basic education, in a vast network of schools that build the intellectual prowess of our communities; we have to invest in every part of this knowledge tree, from seed, root and branch to the highest leaf," he added.
--ANI (Posted on 15-08-2013)