President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday urged citizens to preform the “sacred act” of voting to elect the 17th Lok Sabha and actively participate in the democracy. The president was addressing the nation on the eve of the 70th Republic Day.

“For the success of our democracy, voting becomes a virtuous duty,” he said while requesting citizens to “follow this duty”. Kovind said the upcoming elections were important because those born during the 21st century will cast their vote for the first time and “contribute to the formation of the new Lok Sabha”.

“An election is not just a political exercise,” he said. “An election is a collective call to wisdom and a collective call to action. It represents a renewal and a recommitment to the goals and hopes of a shared and egalitarian society.”

He said India was at a key juncture. “Decisions and actions taken today will shape the India of the remainder of the 21st century,” he said. “As such, this is not just a once-in-a-generation moment – it is a once-in-a-century moment.”

The president said that the country cannot complete development without a salute to the “spirit of inclusiveness and pluralism” which rests on a “tripod of diversity, democracy and development”.

Kovind said this year was important in a special way. “On October 2, we will mark 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi,” he said. “His 150th anniversary is not for India alone; it is a joy to be shared with the world.” He said this will be followed by the 70th anniversary of adopting the Constitution.

In a purported reference to the 10% quota for economically weaker sections in the general category, Kovind said “the recent constitutional amendment to provide special facilities for talented children from poorer families is another step to an India of our dreams and of Gandhiji’s dreams”.

The president said that the change towards gender equity was the best indicator of social change in India. “Young women in our country are moving ahead in every field...There is no stopping and no hesitation in this process. It is the route to India’s future.”


Kovind, who earlier addressed the National Voters Day to mark the founding of the Election Commission, had called for the use of modern technology in elections, PTI reported. “India’s sheer size and the logistics of elections in our country make it crucial to embrace modern technology.”

Earlier on Friday, the President awarded medals to 855 police and paramilitary personnel, including 149 gallantry awards ahead of Republic Day, PTI reported. A Ministry of Home Affairs statement said a total of 146 Police Medal for Gallantry, 74 President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service and 632 Police Medal for Meritorious Service, and three President’s Police Medal for Gallantry.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is the chief guest for the Republic Day parade on Saturday. Ramaphosa arrived in Delhi on Friday and attended talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on bilateral, regional and global matters.