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Disagree, but respect fellow citizens’ rights: President – Times of India
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Disagree, but respect fellow citizens’ rights: President – Times of India

NEW DELHI: A day after protesters opposing Padmaavat went on a rampage, President R N Kovind, in his first Republic Day address, said there can be a disagreement with another viewpoint, or even a historical context, without mocking fellow citizens’ dignity and personal space.
A “civic-minded nation is built by civicminded neighbourhoods, whether in our cities or our villages, where we respect the nextdoor person’s space, privacy and rights,” he said.

In what is being seen as a rebuke to those staging violent protests against the film, Kovind said there was no need to inconvenience neighbours while celebrating a festival, resorting to a protest or on any other occasion.

“Where one can disagree with another viewpoint — or even with a historical context — without mocking a fellow citizen’s dignity and personal space, this is fraternity in action,” he said.

‘Schooling system must encourage kids to think’

The President also made a reference to the controversy over the four most senior judges of the Supreme Court challenging Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra‘s decisions with regard to allocation of cases, saying institutions needed to maintain the integrity, discipline and limits of their functioning without compromising on excellence. “Institutions are always more important than the individuals located there,” he said.

“A morally upright nation is built by disciplined and morally upright institutions, institutions that respect their fraternal relationship with other institutions,” the President said. In a fairly evident reference to the bill seeking to criminalise instant triple talaq, the President said families and communities must hear the “voices of our daughters” and not shut out urgings for change. “The governments can bring in policies and laws to ensure justice to women — but these policies and laws can only be made effective by families and communities that must hear the voices of our daughters,” he said.

The President also called for a relook at learning-by-rote education. “Our schooling system has to encourage our children to think and tinker, not just to memorise and reproduce.” He also highlighted the challenge of malnutrition, pointing out that it impacted India’s human capital. Highlighting the need to respect the rule of law, he added, “Our Constitution framers were men and women with great foresight. They understood the majesty of the rule of law, and of rule by laws.” Kovind’s televised address did not contain a roll call of past leaders as has often been the case with presidential RDay addresses. The speech instead focused on the individual and the community, stressing the need to capitalise on India’s billion-plus citizens and their uplift.

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