In his address to the nation on the eve of 72nd Independence Day, President Ram Nath Kovind underlined the ‘ahimsa’ theory propagated by Mahatama Gandhi. He said contentious issues and extraneous debates should not be allowed to distract us at a “pivotal moment”.

“Perhaps Gandhiji’s most noble mantra was to point out that the power of ‘ahimsa’ is far greater than the power of ‘himsa’. The power to stay your hand is far greater than the power to strike with your hand and ‘himsa’ has no place in the society,” he said.

“We are Gandhiji’s children. We dream for all humanity, even when we walk alone.”

“Independence Day is always special, but this year there is an unusual significance. On October 2, we will begin the 150th birthday commemoration of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji did not just lead our freedom struggle. He was and still is our moral compass,” he said.

He said Gandhiji is mentioned, cherished and remembered as an icon for all humanity. “He is the embodiment of India.”

President Kovind said to Gandhiji, Indian civilisation was defined by open windows and not closed doors.

The President said, “If we define freedom in narrow, political terms, then August 15, 1947, marks a closure. It was the day the political struggle against an imperial power culminated in success and in our Independence Day. But freedom is a broader concept. It is not fixed and finite.”

“Freedom is a constant and relentless endeavour. Even decades after 1947, each one of us can contribute in the manner of a freedom fighter. We can do so if we expand the frontiers of freedom and of opportunity for our fellow Indians and our beloved India.”