President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday urged citizens not to get distracted by contentious topics and extraneous debates at a “pivotal moment” in the country. Kovind said this during his address on the eve of 72nd Independence Day. He said August 15 is sacred for every Indian.

“We are at a juncture in our history that is very different from any period we have so far experienced,” he said. “We are at the cusp of achieving many of our long-awaited goals. We are at a pivotal moment. Let contentious issues and extraneous debates not distract us.”

Kovind hailed the role of freedom fighters who fought for India’s Independence. “Our tricolour is a symbol of our national pride, it is a constant reminder of our striving and self-belief,” the president said. “Independence of India was a result of the sacrifice of freedom fighters and ancestors.”

The president also praised farmers for their contribution and for providing nutrition to the citizens. “As we assist our farmers by providing access to technology and other facilities for enhanced productivity and enhanced incomes, we live up to the principles of our freedom struggle.”

Kovind further said the Army stands guard valiantly on the country’s border, upholding freedom by ensuring security from external threats. “When we provide better weapons for soldiers, develop supply-chains for defence equipment in our country itself, and offer welfare facilities to the soldiers, we create India of the dreams of our freedom fighters,” he added.

The president further said: “Women have a special role in our society. The expansion of freedom in our country in many senses amounts to the expansion of freedom for women in our country.”

Kovind said there is an “unusual significance” attached to this year’s Independence Day as this year on October 2, the country will celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. “It is not always simple to understand Gandhiji. Gandhiji did not just lead our freedom struggle. He was and still is our moral compass,” he said.