New Delhi [India], Aug 15 (ANI): President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday expressed confidence that abrogation of Article 370 and reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories would immensely benefit the region as he noted that India's history and destiny was linked to coexistence and that the country will never lose capacity to listen to feeblest voice.
In his address to the nation on the eve of 73rd Independence Day, the President said people of Jammu and Kashmir will enjoy the same rights, privileges and facilities as citizens in rest of the county including "egalitarian and progressive" laws such as right to education and abolishment of triple talaq.
He said that the recently concluded Parliament session was productive that saw passage of many important bills in a spirit of cross-party cooperation and this culture should percolate to state assemblies as nation-building was a continuous process which requires optimal partnership between voters and their representatives, citizens and the government and civil society and state.
The president said that cherishing and safeguarding public infrastructure is to secure another aspect of hard-won freedom and stopping a person from throwing stone at the public property is "not just a matter of obeying laws, it is of answering to an inner conscience".
He said India has rarely been "a judgemental society" and has had an easy-going, live-and-let-live organising principle with respect for each other's identity.
Noting that the energy of youth is being channelised in many directions including sports and science, he said the greatest gift to the coming generations is to encourage a culture of curiosity.
Kovind said that the illustrious generation that led to the country to freedom did not perceive independence only in terms of transfer of political power but "as a stepping stone in a longer and larger process of nation-building and national welding".
Their objective, he said, was to improve the life of each individual, each family and of society as a whole.
"In this backdrop, I am confident that the recent changes made in Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh would be of immense benefit to those regions. They will enable the people to access and enjoy the same rights, same privileges, and the same facilities as their fellow citizens in the rest of the country.
"These include progressive, egalitarian laws and provisions related to the Right to Education, accessing public information through the Right to Information, reservations in education and employment and other facilities for traditionally deprived communities, and justice for our daughters by abolishing unequal practices such as instant triple talaq," he said.
The Parliament earlier this month adopted a resolution to repeal Article 370, which provided special powers to Jammu and Kashmir.
It also passed a bill to reorganize Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories - Jammu and Kashmir (with legislature) and Ladakh without it.
The reorganization bill was signed by the President after it was passed by the two houses of parliament and it was notified by the government on August 9.
Kovind said he was happy to note that the recently concluded session of Parliament saw "lengthy and productive sittings" of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
"Many important Bills were passed, in a spirit of cross-party cooperation and constructive debate. I am confident this is only an indicator of what the coming five years have in store. I also urge that this culture percolates to all our legislative assemblies," he said.
He said nation-building was a continuous process of which Independence was a key milestone and requires every institution and every stakeholder to work in tandem, to work in harmony and to work in togetherness.
Referring to his travels and meetings with people, Kovind said Indians share the same dreams. "Before 1947, the dreams were for a free India. Today, the dreams are for accelerated development, for effective and transparent governance and yet for a smaller footprint of government in our everyday lives," he said.
Kovind said India's history and destiny, its legacy and future were a function of coexistence and conciliation, of reform and reconciliation, "of expanding our hearts and embracing the ideas of others".
"We should have the same expectations from and regard for fellow citizens as we would expect them to have from and for us. Through the millennia and through the centuries, India has rarely been a judgemental society. Rather, it has had an easy-going, live-and-let-live organising principle. We respect each other's identity - whether born of the region, language or faith, or even the absence of faith," he said.
Kovind said the government can build infrastructure but what is more crucial is for society and for citizens to use and nurture it.
"To cherish and safeguard such infrastructure - infrastructure that belongs to each one of us, the people of India - is to secure another aspect of our hard-won freedom. Civic-minded Indians respect and take ownership of such facilities and such infrastructure. And when they do so, they display the same spirit and resolve as the valiant men and women who serve in our Armed Forces and paramilitary and police forces.
"Whether you guard our nation at the frontiers or check that hand before it throws a stone at a passing train or any other public property - in some measure you protect a shared treasure," he said.
He said India will never lose sight of its ancient ideals or forget its sense of fairness and it is a characteristic of Indianness to empathise with nature and with all living beings.
Reciting lines of poet Subramania Bharati in Tamil, Kovind said these reflected country's "freedom movement and its expansive goals.""We will learn both scripture and science, we will explore both heavens and oceans, we will unravel the mysteries of the moon and we will sweep our streets clean too," he said interpreting the lines.
"May those ideals and may that urge to learn and to listen and to become better, may that curiosity and may that fraternalism, always be with us. May it always bless us, and always bless India," he added. (ANI)