“Those in universities must engage in reasoned discussion and debate rather than propagate a culture of unrest. It is tragic to see them caught in the vortex of violence and disquiet,” he said.
Freedom of speech and expression
President Pranab Mukherjee stressed for freedom of speech and expression which is guaranteed to every Indian by the Constitution. “There must be space for legitimate criticism and dissent,” he said.
“India has been since ancient times a bastion of free thought, speech and expression. Our society has always been characterized by the open contestation of diverse schools of thought and debate or discussion. Freedom of speech and expression is one of the most important fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution,” he said.
Society is known by its treatment to women and children
Regarding the ongoing hounding of Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur for her ‘anti-national’ statement, Mukherjee said a good society can be recognized by how it treats it women and children.
“I do not consider a society or state to be civilized if its citizens behavior towards women is uncivilized. When we brutalize a woman, we wound the soul of our civilization. The acid test of any society is its attitude towards women and children,” he said.
Politicians should not take people for granted
Mukherjee also requested politicians to not to take people for granted. “The leaders or political activists must listen to people, engage with them, learn from them and respond to their needs and concerns. Our lawmakers must never take the people for granted. They must focus on the fundamental task of law making and raising of issues of concern to the people,” he said.
Time has come for patriotism
Raising his voice in favor of patriotism, the President said, “The time has come for collective efforts to re-discover the sense of national purpose and patriotism. Sense of national purpose and patriotism alone can lift our nation on to the road of sustained progress and prosperity. The nation and the people must always come first.”