NEW DELHI: Ram Nath Kovind was sworn in as the 14th President of India by Chief Justice J S Khehar amid thunderous applause and thumping of desks at a ceremonial function in Parliament House on Tuesday.
In his first speech as president, Kovind emphasised the significance of India’s diversity and said the key to India’s success is its diversity. Kovind, who became the second Dalit president of India, also stressed on the need to enhance opportunities for the underprivileged to help mould an egalitarian society. Addressing a gathering that included outgoing president Pranab Mukherjee, PM Narendra Modi, vice president Hamid Ansari, Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan, and other important guests, Kovind stressed on the importance of national pride in nation building.
The 71-year-old advocated the need to build an India that was “an economic leader as well as a moral exemplar”. He said, “For us, those two touchstones can never be separate. They are and must for ever be linked... Our diversity is the core that makes us so unique.” Elaborating on India’s diversity while referring to the mix of states and regions, religions, languages, cultures, lifestyles, he said “the key to India’s success is its diversity”.
The ceremony for change of guard in India’s highest constitutional office not just included an elaborate set of rituals but also saw a digital transition. As Kovind took office and Pranab Mukherjee bowed out, the Twitter account of Rashtrapati Bhavan started functioning as the 144-character digital platform for the 14th president of India. The official handle called President of India started sharing details of his speech given in the Central Hall of Parliament soon after the oath-taking ceremony.
The Twitter account of Mukherjee, who stepped down as president, was archived with the handle @POI13 and he opened a new personal account with the handle @CitiznMukherjee.
Soon after Kovind took oath, the Central Hall witnessed something unusual for a president’s swearing-in-ceremony. A section of BJP leaders raised slogans of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.
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Soon after Kovind--who is a long-time member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological fountainhead of the BJP--took oath, the Central Hall of Parliament witnessed something unusual for the President’s swearing-in -ceremony. A section of BJP leaders raised slogans of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. Pertinently, this is not the first time Jai Shri Ram slogans were raised inside Parliament. In March this year, Prime Minister Modi was greeted with the same slogan by the BJP MPs when he walked into the House following the party's stunning victory in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand Assembly elections.
In his speech, Kovind also paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi and Deen Dayal Upadhyay saying, “We need to sculpt a robust, high growth economy, an educated, ethical and shared community, and an egalitarian society, as envisioned by Mahatma Gandhi and Deen Dayal Upadhyay.”
The newly elected President also remembered and paid respects to his predecessors Rajendra Prasad, S Radhakrishnan, APJ Abdul Kalam and Pranab Mukherjee. In his speech, Kovind also mentioned the principal architect of the Constitution, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar and said Ambedkar instilled in the people “the value of human dignity and of the republican ethic.”
Recalling the principles of Buddha, Kovind further said that the land of the Buddha should lead the world in its search for peace, tranquillity and ecological balance. The President also recalled his humble background and said he grew up in a mud house in a small village and his journey of life had been a long one.
He said, “It is so telling of our nation and our society also...I bow to the 125 crore citizens of this great nation and promise to stay true to the trust they have bestowed on me.”