New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday addressed the nation on the eve of the 71st Republic Day, invoking Mahatma Gandhi and advising the youth that they should not forget the gift of Ahimsa (non-violence) given by the ‘Father of the Nation’ to humanity. Also Read - Republic Day 2020: Six Army Personnel to Receive Shaurya Chakra

The President began his speech by remarking that while the Constitution gave us rights as citizens of a free and democratic nation, it also placed on us the responsibility to always adhere to the central tenets of our democracy-justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. Also Read - Republic Day 2020: Today's Youth Must Remember Gandhi's Message of Non-Violence, Says President

He then listed the various schemes implemented by the government for people’s welfare, including Goods and Services Tax (GST), Ayushmann Bharat, Ujjwala Yojana, Swachh Bharat Mission, Jan Aushadi Yojana etc. President Kovind praised citizens for voluntarily turning these schemes into popular movements.

The President also stressed on the need to ensure the overall development of each and every part of the country, including the recently-created union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, along with the North East and even the Indian Ocean. He also emphasised on the need to have strong internal security for the development of the country.

Talking about the education system of the country, the President recognised educational institutions as temples of learning which emerged as a path to empowerment when the country was pushed to backwardness during the colonial rule. He added that the government’s endeavour should be to ensure that no child or youth is denied education and that there should be a continuous reform of educational systems to reach global education standards.

He also had words of praise for the Indian diaspora, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as well as the Indian Armed and Paramilitary forces, whose sacrifices, he said, ‘present a saga of unparalleled courage and discipline.’

On the nation’s youth, the President said that the nation always comes first for them and with them, the country was witnessing a ‘New India.’ Urging them to take inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi, he said that while fighting for a cause, they shouldn’t forget the gift of Ahimsa given by Gandhiji. “Gandhiji’s talisman for deciding whether an act is right or wrong also applies to the functioning of our democracy,” President Kovind added.

Lastly, he urged the government and the opposition to work in tandem for the development of the country and reiterated commitment to ‘building a secure and prosperous future for ourselves and humanity.’

The 71st Republic Day celebrations will take place with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro as the chief guest for the day’s parade.