India requires smart, committed and idealistic people to give voice to the voiceless, President Pranab Mukherjee said Saturday.
"We need an army of smart, committed and idealistic people to give voice to the voiceless and produce tangible change in our society," he told the first batch of graduates from National Law University, Delhi.
Expressing hope that the graduates would take up legal aid for the poor as a life-long commitment and do their utmost to draw attention to the problems of the disempowered, he advised them not to do this in return for gratitude.
"Do it as your duty - your contribution to a more equal world and a motherland you are proud of - an India which has made you what you are today," said the president.
The president said lawyers have a duty to fight injustice wherever it exists and they must lead the change against criminality, poverty, domestic violence, caste discrimination and other forms of exploitation.
He called upon the NLUD to take the lead in meeting contemporary moral challenges and ensuring that nine essential civilizational values of love for motherland, performance of duty, compassion for all, tolerance for pluralism, respect for women, honesty in life, self-restraint in conduct, responsibility in action and discipline are entrenched in the young minds.
Noting that recent incidents of brutal assault and child rape in Delhi have shaken the society's collective conscience, he said they highlight the urgency to introspect at the erosion of values and the systems' repeated failure to ensure safety and security of women and children.
"The legal fraternity, especially students of law, must be in the vanguard of the battle for women's security, rights and welfare," he said.