President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday touched on almost every incident the country has witnessed since the beginning of last year, including the Covid-19 pandemic, Indian Army’s sacrifice in Galwan and the farmers’ tractor rally that turned violent on Republic Day, while addressing the joint sitting of the two houses of Parliament on Friday.
The President said that the joint sitting of Parliament being held during the time of the coronavirus pandemic has great significance, and mentioned that it is the “beginning of a new year and a new decade”.
“We will also be entering the 75th year of India’s independence this year,” said the President, adding “all the Members of Parliament present here today embody the conviction held by every Indian that the toughest of challenges will deter neither us nor India”.
“Whenever India has remained united, it has been able to attain even seemingly unattainable goals,” Kovind said.
He noted that the country faced every crisis with fortitude, be it the coronavirus pandemic, floods, earthquakes or major cyclones in several states, locust attack or the bird flu.
The recent past also saw an unprecedented escalation in tension along the border.
The nation stood together, battled crises on multiple fronts and surmounted every challenge.
During this period, we have all witnessed the unparalleled courage, endurance, discipline and spirit of service of our countrymen, the President said.
In this fight against the pandemic, Kovind said we have also suffered the untimely loss of life of a number of our countrymen.
“Our beloved former President and my predecessor Pranab Mukherjee too passed away during the pandemic. The untimely demise of six Members of Parliament was also due to the coronavirus. I pay my heartfelt tribute to all of them.”
Mentioning the farmers’ agitation over the three contentious farm laws, the President said Parliament approved these important farm reforms seven months ago.
He said that the three farm reforms, have started reaching out to more than 10 crore small-time farmers instantly.
Appreciating the advantages that these reforms would bring to the small farmers, the President said several political parties too had, from time to time, expressed their support.
“Discussions were done over these farm reforms in every part of the country for over two decades.”
Currently, Kovind said, the Apex Court has stayed the implementation of these laws, and his government respects the decision of the court and shall abide by it.
He added that his government holds in high esteem the values of democracy and sanctity of the Constitution and that it is continuously making efforts to dispel the misunderstanding created in the context of these laws.
Condemning Republic Day’s tractor rally organised by the farmers that turned violent, leading to the death of a farmer and leaving many security personnel injured, the President said his government has always respected freedom of expression and holding of peaceful agitations in a democratic set up.
However, Kovind said the recent acts of “dishonouring the National Flag and showing disrespect to the auspicious occasion of the Republic Day are unfortunate”.
“While the Constitution gives us the right to freedom of expression it is also expected that we abide by the laws and rules with equal sincerity,” he said.