IANS

President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday said that India is better placed today to meet the challenges of the future and hailed the country's vaccination drive against Covid-19.

Addressing the nation on the eve of 73rd Republic Day, he said that the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the country has shown an unmatched resolve. He noted that the vaccination drive is progressing at a quick pace and during the pandemic, India has reached out to several other countries with vaccines and other medical help and its contribution has also been appreciated by international organisations.

Noting that unfortunately, the virus makes a comeback with new mutations, the President cautioned that as the pandemic is still widespread, people must remain alert and not let their guard down. He emphasised that in the fight against Covid, it has now become a sacred national duty of every citizen to follow the precautions suggested by scientists and experts and "we have to discharge this duty till the crisis is behind us".

Kovind said that each one of us can remember Gandhiji's advice and help improve the world around us, exuding confidence that inspired by this spirit of universal brotherhood, India and the entire global community will move towards a more equitable and prosperous future.

Appreciating the role of leadership, policy-makers, administrators, and others at the Central and state levels for making timely interventions, he also said that the economy is on the move again. It is a testimony to India's spirit in the face of adversity that the economy is projected to grow at an impressive rate in this fiscal, after going through contraction last year, he said, adding that this shows the success of the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan launched the previous year.

Noting that small and medium enterprises have played an important role in providing employment to people and imparting impetus to the economy, the President said: "Our innovative young entrepreneurs have set new benchmarks of success by making effective use of the startup eco-system."

Referring to the National Education Policy, he said: "To reap the demographic dividend, the government has created the right environment with the National Education Policy that makes a perfect blend of traditional values and modern skills."

He also said that it is gratifying to note that India has found a place among the top 50 innovative economies.

About the country's sportspersons who brought cheers last year as they made their mark at the Olympics and their self-confidence, he said that they will inspire millions of youngsters.

The President said that in recent months, he has witnessed remarkable examples of people strengthening the country and the society through their commitment and action in diverse areas.

"The dedicated teams of the Indian Navy and Cochin Shipyard Ltd have built indigenous state of the art aircraft carrier IAC Vikrant which is to be inducted into our Navy," he said, adding that due to such modern military capabilities, India is now counted among the world's leading naval powers.

"This is an impressive example of moving towards self-reliance in the field of defence."

The President said that today, it is our soldiers and security personnel who carry on the legacy of national pride. He said, when a brave soldier dies on duty, the entire country feels sad. Last month, in an unfortunate accident, the country lost one of the bravest commanders - General Bipin Rawat, his wife and many other brave soldiers and the entire country was deeply saddened by the tragic loss, he said.

Highlighting that India will cross a milestone when it completes 75 years of Independence, the President said that the country has been celebrating this as 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav'. "It is a great opportunity for not only the next generation but all of us to reconnect with our past... our freedom struggle was an inspiring chapter in our splendid saga. In this 75th year of Independence, let us re-discover the values that animated our glorious national movement," he added.

Kovind also said that all had, on January 23, observed the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, who had adopted the energising salutation of 'Jai Hind' and his quest for independence and his ambition to make India proud "inspire all of us".

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