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Our Republic Day pledge

- ‘2014 a year of healing’

President Pranab Mukherjee shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in New Delhi on Saturday. Abe is on a three-day visit to India and will be the chief guest at Sunday’s Republic Day celebrations. (AFP)

New Delhi, Jan. 25 (PTI): President Pranab Mukherjee today warned that a fractured government will be hostage to “whimsical opportunists” and be “catastrophic” to India, indicating he viewed stability as the prime factor that will propel the country’s progress.

Asking the voters not to “let India down”, the President said 2014 must become a year of healing after the fractured and contentious politics of the last few years and whosoever wins must have an undiluted commitment to stability, honesty and development.

Addressing the nation on the eve of 65th Republic Day, the President said he was not a cynic because he knew that democracy has a marvellous ability to self-correct.

“It is the physician that heals itself and 2014 must become a year of healing after the fractured and contentious politics of the last few years,” he said.

On democracy, Mukherjee said, “Some cynics may scoff at our commitment to democracy but our democracy has never been betrayed by the people; its fault-lines, where they exist, are the handiwork of those who have made power a gateway to greed.

“We do feel angry, and rightly so, when we see democratic institutions being weakened by complacency and incompetence. If we hear sometimes an anthem of despair from the street, it is because people feel that a sacred trust is being violated.”

The President said India has grown into a beautiful, vibrant and sometimes noisy democracy, which was not a gift but a fundamental right of every citizen.

“... for those in power democracy is a sacred trust. Those who violate this trust commit sacrilege against the nation,” he said.

Mukherjee said the year 2014 was a “precipice moment” in India's history and it should re-discover that sense of national purpose and patriotism which lifts it above and across the abyss and back on the road to prosperity.

“The year 1950 saw the birth of our Republic. I am sure that 2014 will be the year of resurgence.”

He said the youth should be given jobs and they would raise villages and cities to 21st century standards. “Give them a chance and you will marvel at the India they create. This chance will not come if India does not get a stable government.

“A fractured government, hostage to whimsical opportunists, is always an unhappy eventuality. In 2014, it could be catastrophic. Each one of us is a voter; each one of us has a deep responsibility; we cannot let India down. It is time for introspection and action,” he warned.

India, he said, was in a turbulent part of the world where factors of instability have grown in the recent past. “Communal forces and terrorists will still seek to destabilise the harmony of our people and the integrity of our state but they will never win.

“Our security and armed forces, backed by the steel of popular support, have proved that they can crush an enemy within; with as much felicity as they guard our frontiers.

He admitted that the promise of India, a history of ideas, philosophy, intellect, has sometimes been mislaid by misfortune and at other times by our own complacence and weakness.        

“Destiny has given us another opportunity to recover what we have lost; we will have no one to blame but ourselves if we falter,” he said.

Mukherjee said a democratic nation is always involved in argument with itself. “This is welcome, for we solve problems through discussion and consent, not force. But healthy differences of opinion must not lead to an unhealthy strife within our polity,” he said.

       Recalling India’s ancient institutions of excellence in education, Mukherjee said the quality of education has to be the country's focus now.

“We can be world leaders in education, if only we discover the will and leadership to take us to that pinnacle,” he said.

 Calling for an educational revolution, he said, “Education is no longer just the privilege of the elite, but a universal right. It is the seed of a nation's destiny.”