Violence in protests weakens society, country: Kovind

Violence in protests weakens society, country: President Ram Nath Kovind

Addressing a joint sitting of Parliament at the start of Budget Session, he said that the faith reposed by the people in democratic institutions strengthens the foundation of our democracy.

As the country is witnessing protests against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday said that violence in the name of protests weakens the society and the nation as he emphasised that mutual discussions and debates strengthen democracy.

Addressing a joint sitting of Parliament at the start of Budget Session, he said that the faith reposed by the people in democratic institutions strengthens the foundation of our democracy.

"The maturity displayed by the countrymen after the Supreme Court’s verdict on Ram Janmabhoomi is also laudable. My government is of the firm view that mutual discussions and debates strengthen democracy. At the same time, any kind of violence in the name of protests weakens the society and the nation," he said without mentioning CAA.

"In a democracy, nothing is more sacred than the mandate given by the people. The people of the country have given this mandate to my government for the making of a new India," he said even as his remarks on CAA later in his address invited protests from Opposition parties.

Kovind said that Mahatma Gandhi's wish has been fulfilled by the enactment of CAA.

Noting that this decade is important as the country will complete 75 years of independence, he said that a strong foundation has been laid in the last five years by the government to make "this decade India's decade and this century India's century".

Even as CAA became the highlight of his speech, Kovind also mentioned scrapping of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in his address that also spoke about the achievements of Modi government.

Kovind said that rapid development of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh is among the priorities of the Centre as he emphasised that the scrapping of Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution was not only historic but has also paved the way for equitable the region's development.

"Through this House, I heartily congratulate the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh for joining the mainstream of development," he said.

He quoted Sangh ideologue Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, who was the "great son of Bengal" and a minister in the government headed by Jawaharlal Nehru, as saying in Lok Sabha, "in a democratic federal state, the fundamental rights of the citizens of one constituent unit cannot vary vis-à-vis the citizens of another unit. Are not the people of Jammu and Kashmir entitled to the fundamental rights that we have given to the people of India minus Jammu and Kashmir?"

"Today, after seven decades, the whole country is happy that the dream of crores of freedom fighters, including Mookerjee, has come true and the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, Dalits and women from that area have also got the same rights as the people in the rest of the country," he said.

He also said the government is "constantly striving" for the empowerment of minorities and referred to the Hunar Haat scheme through which employment opportunities have been provided to 2.65 lakh skilled artisans belonging to the minority community.

Scholarships have been granted in large numbers to Muslim students to enable them to continue their education without interruption, he said.

Kovind also spoke about the efforts of the government to improve connectivity, ease of doing business and building modern infrastructure and pointed out to the country's better performance in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings, Resolving Insolvency rankings, Global Innovation rankings, Logistics Performance Index and World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness rankings.

"Reforms in diverse areas are also a call to the international community to see how India has strengthened its foundations in the last 5-6 years and how keen the people of India are to build a new India," he said.

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