India’s Covid handling better than developed countries, says Murmu

In her address to the nation on the eve of the 76th Independence Day, the country’s first tribal President said a “common thread” binds the people of India, which is known for its diversity, and inspires them to work together.

“In celebrating Independence Day, we are celebrating our ‘Bharatiyata’. Our country is full of diversity. But at the same time, we all have something in common. It is this common thread which binds all of us together and inspires us to walk together with the spirit of Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat,” Murmu said.

The President, who is the second woman occupant of Rashtrapati Bhavan, said “daughters” were the “biggest hope for the nation”, and hailed their rise across all disciplines and fields from “fighter pilots to space scientists”.

Gender inequalities are reducing and women are breaking many glass ceilings, Murmu said. The change is visible on the ground, including in the political system — there are over 14 lakh elected women representatives in Panchayati Raj institutions today, she said.

Many international leaders and experts had been sceptical about the success of democracy in India, a country which was weighed down by poverty and illiteracy after Independence, Murmu said. “But we Indians proved the sceptics wrong. Democracy not only grew roots in this soil, it was enriched too.”

Unlike some well-established democracies, India adopted universal adult franchise from the beginning, even as in many countries women obtained the right to vote after long struggles, she said.

“The makers of modern India enabled each and every adult citizen to participate in the collective process of nation-building. Thus, India can be credited to have helped the world discover the true potential of democracy,” the President said.

The deepening of democratic traditions was not a coincidence, Murmu said. Indian civilisation has been defined by “equality of all and oneness of all” from the beginning — values that were rediscovered by leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, she said.

In her approximately 15-minute speech, Murmu recalled the words of Kannada poet Kuvempu: “I will pass, So will you, But on our bones will arise, The great tale of a new India”. This, she said, was a “clarion call” for sacrifice for the motherland and the uplift of fellow citizens.

Crediting the government for bringing “ease” in the lives of people through its welfare initiatives, Murmu said the country is witnessing a “transformation” in healthcare, education, and the economy, as work is being carried out in the spirit of nation first.

The keyword for India today is “compassion — for the downtrodden, for the needy and for those on the margins”, the President said. She specifically praised schemes such as the PM Awas Yojana, Jal Jeevan Mission, and PM Gati Shakti Yojana.

But above all, she said, the government and policymakers deserve credit for “beating the global trend and helping the economy flourish” despite the Covid-19 pandemic, which had uprooted lives and livelihoods.

“In combating the pandemic, our achievements have been better than those of many developed countries. For this feat, we are grateful to our scientists, doctors, nurses, paramedics and the staff associated with vaccination,” Murmu said. The “growing number of unicorns”, she said, is a shining example of India’s economic progress.

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The President, who belongs to the Santhal tribe, said the government’s decision to observe November 15 as Janjatiya Gaurav Divas is welcome “because our tribal heroes are not merely local or regional icons; they inspire the entire nation”.

At a time when the world is facing the challenge of protecting the environment, India can show the way with its traditional lifestyle, Murmu said, stressing on the need to preserve the country’s water, soil and biodiversity.

“By the year 2047, we will have fully realised the dreams of our freedom fighters. We will have given a concrete shape to the vision of those who, led by Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar, drafted the Constitution. We are already on course to build an Atmanirbhar Bharat, an India that would have realised its true potential,” she said.

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