In her address to the nation, President Murmu said the celebration of Republic Day is a celebration of what the people of the country have achieved together as a nation. In her first address as President on the eve of Republic Day, President Murmu said India has succeeded as a democratic republic because so many creeds and languages "have not divided us but have united us".
"On the eve of the 74th Republic Day, I extend my heartiest greetings to every Indian, at home and abroad. From the day the Constitution came into effect to the present day, it has been an amazing journey that has inspired many other nations. Every citizen has reason to be proud of the Indian Story. When we celebrate the Republic Day, we celebrate what we have achieved, together, as a nation," she said.
The President said India is home to one of the oldest living civilisations.
"India is called the mother of democracy. As a modern Republic, however, we are young. In the early years of Independence, we faced countless challenges and adversities. Very high levels of poverty and illiteracy were just two of the many ill-effects of the long foreign rule. Yet, the spirit of India was undeterred. With hope and confidence, we began an experiment unique in the history of humankind," she said.
"Such a vast and diverse multitude of people coming together as one nation remains unprecedented. We did so with a belief that we are, after all, one; that we are all Indians. We have succeeded as a democratic republic because so many creeds and so many languages have not divided us, they have only united us. That is the essence of India. That essence was at the heart of the Constitution, which has withstood the test of time," she added.
The President said that the Constitution that started governing the life of the Republic was the outcome of the freedom struggle.
"The national movement, led by Mahatma Gandhi, was as much about winning Independence as about rediscovering our own ideals," she said.
The President said those decades of struggle and sacrifice helped India win freedom not only from colonial rule but also from the imposed values and narrow world-views.
"Revolutionaries and reformers joined hands with visionaries and idealists to help us learn about our age-old values of peace, brotherhood and equality. Those who shaped the modern Indian mind also welcomed progressive ideas from abroad," she said.
The President said a long and profound thought process culminated in Constitution.
"Our founding document is inspired by the humanistic philosophy of the oldest living civilisation in the world as well as new ideas that emerged in more recent history."
She said the nation will always remain grateful to Dr BR Ambedkar, who headed the Drafting Committee of the Constitution, and had a critical part in giving it the final shape.
"On this day, we should also remember the role of jurist BN Rau, who had prepared the initial draft, and other experts and officers who helped in making of the constitution."
She said the members of that assembly represented all regions and communities of India and that they included 15 women too.
"Their vision, as enshrined in the Constitution, has been continuously guiding our Republic. During this period, India has been transformed from a largely poor and illiterate nation into a confident nation marching on the world stage. This would not have been possible but for the collective wisdom of the Constitution-makers guiding our path."
President Murmu said while Babasaheb Ambedkar and others gave the map and a moral framework, "the task of walking that path remains our responsibility."
"We have largely remained true to their expectations, and yet we realise that much remains to be done to realise Gandhiji's ideal of 'Sarvodaya', the upliftment of all. Yet, the progress we have made on all fronts is encouraging," she said. (ANI)