Text of speech by new President Ram Nath Kovind

Text of speech by new President Ram Nath Kovind

NEW DELHI: Following is the text of the speech delivered by Ram Nath Kovind after being sworn in as the 14th President of India in the Central Hall of Parliament here on Tuesday.

"Respected Shri Pranab Mukherjee ji,

Shri Hamid Ansari ji,

Shri Narendra Modi ji,

Shrimati Sumitra Mahajan ji,

Shri Justice J. S. Khehar ji,

Excellencies,

Hon'ble Members of Parliament,

Ladies and Gentlemen, and

Fellow Citizens

I thank you for electing me to the responsibility of the President of India, and I enter this office with all humility. Coming here to Central Hall has brought back so many memories. I have been a Member of Parliament and here, in this very Central Hall, have had discussions with many of you. Often we agreed, sometimes we disagreed. But we learnt to respect each other. And that is the beauty of democracy.

I grew up in a mud house, in a small village. My journey has been a long one, and yet this journey is hardly mine alone. It is so telling of our nation and our society also. For all its problems, it follows that basic mantra given to us in the Preamble to the Constitution - of ensuring Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity and I will always continue to follow this basic mantra.

I bow to the 125 crore citizens of this great nation and promise to stay true to the trust they have bestowed on me. I am conscious I am following in the footsteps of stalwarts such as Dr. Rajendra Prasad,

Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, and my immediate predecessor, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, whom we address out of affection as 'Pranab Da'.

Our Independence was the result of efforts by thousands of patriotic freedom fighters led by Mahatma Gandhi. Later, Sardar Patel integrated our nation. Principal architect of our Constitution Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar instilled in us the value of human dignity and of the republican ethic.

These leaders did not believe that simply political freedom was enough. For them, it was crucial to also achieve economic and social freedom for millions of our people.

We would be completing 70 years of our Independence soon. We are also well into the second decade of the 21st century, a century that so many of us intuitively believe will be an Indian century, guided and shaped by India and its accomplishments. We need to build an India that is an economic leader as well as a moral exemplar. For us, those two touchstones can never be separate. They are and must forever be linked.

The key to India's success is its diversity. Our diversity is the core that makes us so unique. In this land we find a mix of states and regions, religions, languages, cultures, lifestyles and much more. We are so different and yet so similar and united.

The India of the 21st century will be one that is in conformity with our ancient values as well as compliant with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. There is no dichotomy there, no question of choice. We must combine tradition and technology, the wisdom of an age-old Bharat and the science of a contemporary India.

As the gram panchayat must determine our consultative and community based problem solving, the Digital Republic must help us leapfrog developmental milestones. These are the twin pillars of our national endeavour.

Nations are not built by governments alone. The government can at best be a facilitator, and a trigger for society's innate entrepreneurial and creative instincts. Nation building requires national pride:

- We take pride in the soil and water of India;

- We take pride in the diversity, religious harmony and inclusive ethos of India;

- We take pride in the culture, heritage and spirituality of India;

- We take pride in our fellow citizens;

- We take pride in our work; and

- We take pride in the little things we do every day.

Each citizen of India is a nation builder. Each one of us is a custodian of India's well-being and of the legacy that we will pass on to coming generations.

- The armed forces that protect our borders and keep us safe are nation builders.

- Those police and paramilitary forces that fight terrorism and crime are nation builders.

- That farmer toiling in the blazing sun to feed fellow citizens is a nation builder. And we must never forget that so much of our farm labour comprises women.

- That scientist concentrating tirelessly and 24 x 7 to send an Indian space mission to Mars, or invent a vaccine, is a nation builder.

- That nurse or doctor helping the sick to recover and fighting disease in a remote village, is a nation builder.

- That y