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New Delhi, August 14, 2020
President Ram Nath Kovind today said the COVID-19 pandemic, like the climate change, has “awakened the global community to our shared destiny” and "human-centric collaboration" was more important than "economy-centric inclusion".
Addressing the nation on the eve of Independence Day, Kovind said, “We have learnt some tough lessons in the year 2020. The invisible virus has demolished the illusion that the human being is the master of nature. I believe, it is still not too late for humanity to correct its course and live in harmony with nature.
“The pandemic, like climate change, has awakened the global community to our shared destiny. In my view, 'human-centric collaboration' is more important than 'economy-centric inclusion', in the present context,” he pointed out.
“The greater this change, the better it will be for the humanity. The 21st century should be remembered as the century when humanity put aside differences and collaborated to save the planet,” the President said.
Greeting the people on the eve of the 74th Independence Day, he said the celebrations of Independence Day this year will be rather restrained.
"The reason is obvious. The whole world confronts a deadly virus which has disrupted all activities and taken a huge toll. It has altered the world we lived in before the pandemic.
“It is very reassuring to note that, the central government, while anticipating the tremendous challenge, responded effectively and well in time. For a country so vast and diverse with high population density, meeting this challenge requires super-human efforts.
"All state governments took measures in accordance with local circumstances. People also supported whole-heartedly. With our committed efforts, we have succeeded in containing the magnitude of the pandemic and saving a large number of lives. This is worth emulating by the wider world,” he said.
"The nation is indebted to doctors, nurses and other health workers who have been continuously on the forefront of our fight against this virus. Unfortunately, many of them have lost their lives battling the pandemic. They are our national heroes. All corona warriors deserve high praise. They go much beyond their call of duty to save lives and ensure essential services," he said.
The President stressed the need to augment health infrastructure. Public hospitals and laboratories have been leading the fight against COVID-19. Public health services have helped the poor cope with the pandemic, he said.
"These doctors, health workers, members of Disaster Management Teams, police personnel, sanitation workers, delivery staff, transportation, railway and aviation personnel, providers of various services, government employees, social service organisations and generous citizens have been scripting inspiring stories of courage and selfless service.
"When cities and towns go quiet and roads are deserted, they work tirelessly to ensure that people are not deprived of health care and relief, water and electricity, transport and communication facilities, milk and vegetables, food and groceries, medicine and other essentials. They risk their own lives to save our life and livelihood.
"Amid this crisis, Cyclone Amphan hit us in West Bengal and Odisha. A concerted response of Disaster Management Teams, Central and State agencies and alert citizens helped minimize loss of life. Floods have been disrupting the lives of our people in the North-East and eastern states. Amid such onslaughts of disasters, it is gratifying to see all sections of society coming together to help those in distress," he said.
Kovind said the poor and daily wage-earners are the worst hit by the pandemic. For supporting them through this phase of the crisis, virus containment-efforts have been supplemented by welfare interventions. By introducing ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana’, the government has enabled crores of people to earn their livelihood and mitigate the impact of job-loss, dislocation and disruption caused by the pandemic, he said.
"The Government continues to extend its helping hand through a number of initiatives, supported whole-heartedly by the corporate sector, civil society and citizens.
"The needy are being given free food grains so that no family goes hungry. The largest free food distribution programme in the world has been extended till the end of November 2020 to provide succour to about 80 crore people every month. To ensure that migratory ration card holders get ration anywhere in the country, all states are being brought under the coverage of ‘One Nation - One Ration Card’ scheme.
"Committed to taking care of our people stranded anywhere in the world, the Government has brought back more than 10 lakh Indians under the ‘Vande Bharat Mission’. Indian Railways has been operating train services, in these challenging circumstances, to facilitate travel and transportation of people and goods," he said.
"Confident of our strengths, we reached out to help other countries in their fight against COVID-19. In responding to calls from countries for the supply of medicines, India has once again shown that it stands by the global community in times of distress. We have been at the forefront in evolving regional and global strategies for an effective response to the pandemic.
"The overwhelming support India got at the elections for the non-permanent seat of the United Nations Security Council is a testimony to the goodwill we enjoy internationally.
"It has been the tradition of India that we do not just live for ourselves, but work for the well-being of the entire world. India's self-reliance means being self-sufficient without alienating or creating distance from the world. It implies that India will continue to engage with the world economy while maintaining its identity.
"The world now realizes what our sages had said long ago: the global community is but one family; ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’. However, even while the world community needs to fight together against the greatest challenge before humanity, some in our neighbourhood tried to carry out their misadventure of expansion.
"Our brave soldiers laid down their lives defending our borders. Those worthy sons of Bharat Mata lived and died for national pride. The entire nation salutes the martyrs of Galwan Valley. Every Indian feels grateful to their family members.
"Their bravery in combat has demonstrated that while we believe in peace, we are also capable of giving a befitting response to any attempt of aggression. We are proud of the members of our Armed Forces, paramilitary forces and police personnel who protect the borders and ensure our internal security.
" I believe that in the fight against COVID-19, life and livelihood, both are essential. We have looked at the current crisis as an opportunity to initiate reforms to revitalise the economy for the benefit of all, especially farmers and small entrepreneurs. Landmark reforms have been introduced in the agriculture sector.
"Now, farmers can have barrier-free trade and get the best price for their produce anywhere in the country. The Essential Commodities Act has been amended to remove certain regulatory restrictions on farmers. This will help raise farmers’ income," he said.
The President said the pandemic had highlighted the need to accelerate developments in science and technology. During the lockdown and subsequent unlocking, information and communication technology has emerged as an effective tool for governance, education, business, office work and social connect. It has helped meet the twin objectives of saving lives and resumption of activities, he said.
"Offices of the Government of India and the state governments have been extensively using virtual interface to discharge their functions. The judiciary has been conducting virtual court proceedings to deliver justice.
“In Rashtrapati Bhavan also, we have used technology to conduct virtual conferences and carry out many activities. IT and communication tools have promoted e-learning and distance education. Work-from-home has become the norm in many sectors. Technology has enabled certain establishments in government and private sectors to work overtime to keep the wheels of the economy running.
“Thus, we have learnt the lesson that the adoption of science and technology, in harmony with nature, will help sustain our survival and growth,” he added.