Changes to J&K will bring benefits: Ram Nath Kovind

People can enjoy progressive laws, the President says his

President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday said the recent changes to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and Ladakh will bring “immense benefits” to the people by allowing them to enjoy the same rights and privileges as citizens in the rest of the country, including progressive laws like abolition of triple talaq and the Right to Education (RTE).

In his address to the nation on the eve of the 73rd Independence Day — the first since the Centre took away J&K’s special status by anulling Article 370 — President Kovind said the illustrious generation who fought for India’s freedom did not view Independence as “mere transfer of power but as a stepping stone in a longer and larger process of nation building and national welding”.

“In this backdrop, I am confident that the recent changes made in Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh would be of immense benefit to those regions,” he said.

“They will enable the people to access and enjoy the same rights, same privileges and same facilities as their fellow citizens in the rest of the country,” he said.

“These include progressive, egalitarian laws and provisions related to the Right to Education; accessing public information through the Right to Information; reservations in education and employment and other facilities for traditionally deprived communities; and justice for our daughters by abolishing unequal practices such as instant triple talaq,” the President added. In an address where the President talked about the relationship between the State, its citizens and the government, he said, “India’s history and destiny, India’s legacy and future, are a function of coexistence and conciliation, of reform and reconciliation — of expanding our hearts and embracing the ideas of others.”

President Kovind also expressed the confidence that “India will never lose its capacity to listen to the feeblest voice; that it will never lose sight of its ancient ideals; that it will forget neither its sense of fairness nor its sense of adventure.”

”We Indians are a people who dare to explore the moon and Mars. We are also a people who persevere to create a loving habitat for three of every four wild tigers on our planet, because it is characteristic of Indianness to empathise with nature and with all living beings,” he said.

He also called upon every civic-minded citizen to defend public infrastructure in the same way as soldiers protect the borders.

”Whether you guard our nation at the frontiers or check that hand before it throws a stone at a passing train or any other public property — just like that, for the sake of it; or perhaps in anger — in some measure you protect a shared treasure. This is not just a matter of obeying laws; it is of answering to an inner conscience,” Mr. Kovind said.

The President praised the recently concluded session of Parliament where he noted that several laws were passed with cross party support and urged State Assemblies to replicate such productivity in law making and nation building.

Commenting on the 2019 general election, he said it was a “renewal of collective hope and optimism”.

The President also noted the changes in people’s aspiration over the years and pointed out that while a citizen dreamt of a “free India before 1947, now they want accelerated development and transparent governance” where the government was a facilitator and an enabler.

Talking about government policies, the President said a true measure of its effectiveness is seen if it works for the sections it was meant for.

”For example, rural roads and better connectivity have meaning only if farmers use them to reach bigger markets and get better prices for their produce. Fiscal reforms and easier regulations for business have meaning only if our entrepreneurs, whether small start-ups or big industrialists, use these to build honest and imaginative enterprises and create sustainable jobs,” he said.

Ahead of the 550th birth anniversary Guru Nanak Dev, the first Sikh Guru and the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the President remembered them and their contribution to the society.

Urging society to encourage curiosity and listen to the children as “through them India’s future whispers to us”, President Kovind ended his speech with a few lines from Tamil poet Subramanya Bharati.

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