President Ram Nath Kovind on January 25, 2018 asked the rich to renew India’s age-old culture of philanthropy by voluntarily giving up their entitlements for those with greater need.
In his first Republic Day eve address to the nation, the President also spoke of the need to move ahead rapidly on sustainable development goals like housing for all and the obligation to eliminate the curse of poverty in the shortest possible time.
Mr. Kovind utilised the opportunity to stress on the need to reform, upgrade and enlarge the education system to make it relevant to 21st Century realities of the digital economy, genomics, robotics and automation.
He said a nation with a sense of selflessness is built by citizens and by a society that embraces selflessness not because anybody has asked them to but because of a call from within.
“Where a better-off family voluntarily gives up an entitlement — it could be subsidised LPG today and some other entitlement tomorrow — so that another family, which has a greater need, can avail it.”
He urged all citizens to collate privileges and entitlements and “then look at less-privileged members of a similar background, those who are starting off from where we once started off.
“And let each of us introspect and ask: Is his need or her need greater than mine? The spirit of philanthropy and of giving is part of our age-old culture. Let us renew it.”
The President said the highest stage of India’s nation building project lied in contributing towards building “a better world, a composite and cohesive world, a world at peace with itself and at peace with nature”. He said this was the ideal spirit of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam — of the world being one family”.
“It is an ideal that may sound impractical in today’s times of tensions and of terrorism. But it is an ideal that has inspired India for thousands of years — and that ideal can be felt in the very texture of our constitutional values.
“The principles of compassion, of assisting those in need, of building capacities of our neighbours, or even of those further away, underpin our society. These are the very principles that we bring to the international community.”
He said the country needed to further improve the lives of its farmers who “like mothers toil to feed us”.
The President stressed on the need to modernise and strengthen India’s strategic manufacturing sector “to provide the valiant personnel of our Armed Forces, and our police and paramilitary forces, the equipment that they need”.
“We need to move ahead rapidly on the Sustainable Development Goals that commit us to eliminating poverty and hunger, to universal access to quality education and healthcare, and to giving our daughters equal opportunity in every field.
“We need to make clean, green, efficient and affordable energy reach our people. We need to ensure that housing for all becomes a living reality for the millions of families who await their own home. We need to craft a modern India that is both a land of talent — and a land of unlimited opportunities for that talent.”
Mr. Kovind said while India has achieved a lot as a nation but much remained to be done before the country turns 70 year old republic in 2020 and celebrates its 75th Independence anniversary in 2022
“These are special occasions and we must strive, in the manner of the leaders of our national movement and the framers of our Constitution, to build the edifice of a better India — an India where each and every citizen will be able to realise his or her full potential. An India that will reach its deserved pedestal in the 21st century.”