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Rashtrapati Bhavan : 04.09.2014

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee delivered the 5th Dr. Ambedkar Memorial Lecture on the topic ‘Vision of India in 21st Century, as envisaged by Dr. Ambedkar’ today (September 4, 2014) at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi.

Speaking on the occasion, the President said Dr. Ambedkar dreamt of an India in which all sections of society are empowered – socially, economically and politically; an India in which every section of our population believes that they have an equal stake in the country and its future and an India in which social status will be decided not by standing in caste hierarchy or economic wealth but by individual merit. Dr. Ambedkar’s vision was of an India where the social system and economy would permit the full development of human potential and ensure a dignified existence for all our citizens. Each one of us has a responsibility to do our utmost to make Dr. Ambedkar’s dreams come true. We must do everything possible to preserve and strengthen our democracy. We must engage in combined and committed efforts to overcome poverty and prejudice. We need to be constantly on the guard against divisive forces raising their heads in the country. We should address with utmost of speed the challenges of malnutrition, ignorance, unemployment and infrastructure. We must also ensure that untouchability or any form of disability based on caste, creed, religion or sex is not practised in any part of the country. It is only through these endeavours can we occupy our rightful place in the leading ranks of the comity of nations.

The President said Dr. Ambedkar’s message, work and life are a constant reminder of the outstanding Constitution, strong democracy and effective, independent institutions we have inherited from the founding fathers of our nation. At the same time, it also reminds us of the distance we still need to travel in building an egalitarian society where there will be no distinction between man and man.

The President concluded recalling Dr. Ambedkar’s words from his address to the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949: "In addition to our old enemies in the form of castes and creeds, we are going to have many political parties with diverse and opposing political creeds. Will Indians place the country above their creed or will they place creed above country? I do not know. But this much is certain that if the parties place creed above country, our independence will be put in jeopardy a second time and probably be lost forever. This eventuality we must all resolutely guard against. We must be determined to defend our independence with the last drop of our blood”.

This release issued at 1445 hrs.