New Delhi, Aug 14
Describing economic progress as one of the tests of Democracy, President Pranab Mukherjee today said the country needed a second freedom struggle, to ensure an India free from hunger, disease and poverty.
In his address to the Nation on the eve of the country’s 66th independence Day, Mr Mukherjee also commended the fact that India had posted an average growth rate of more than 8 per cent over the last seven years despite two great international crises that rocked the world and some domestic dips.
Describing the India economy today as “more resilient and confident”, notwithstanding the tremendous pressure of an adverse external environment, the President, in his first Independence Day-eve address, said,”two decades of steady economic reforms have contributed to improvement in average income and consumption levels in both rural and urban areas. There is new found dynamism in some of the most backward areas bringing them into national economic mainstream.”
Calling for a second freedom struggle to ensure an India free for ever from hunger, disease and poverty, Mr Mukherjee said,”If our economy has achieved critical mass, then it must become a launching pad for the next leap. We need a second freedom struggle; this time to ensure that India is free for ever from hunger, disease and poverty. As my pre-eminent predecessor Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, speaking from this platform on the 18th anniversary of freedom, said, ‘Economic progress is one of the tests of democracy.’ In this context, he reminded that the great freedom fighters of India had envisioned an India free from poverty illiteracy and disease.
“I was a toddler when Netaji, as Rashtrapati of the 51st Session of Indian National Congress in Haripura, on the banks of the river Tapti, reminded us that ‘our chief national problems are eradication of poverty, illiteracy and disease’. His speech echoed through my home, as it did through millions of others. My father was a freedom fighter and through those long years when freedom seemed an illusion, we were sustained by faith in ourselves, in our leaders, in the strength of non-violence, in the courage of Indians liberated from fear. But we knew then, as we do now, that freedom must mean both bread and dreams,”the President said.