President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday said the new generation of Indians was “better informed”, but invoked Mahatma Gandhi’s principles to tell the youth to be non-violent while fighting for causes. Kovind was speaking on the eve of the 71st Republic Day.

The president said: “Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals remain relevant in our nation-building efforts. It should be part of our daily routine to introspect on Gandhiji’s message of truth and nonviolence, which has become all the more necessary in our times. When fighting for a cause, people, particularly the youth, should not forget the gift of Ahimsa [non-violence] Gandhiji gave to humanity.”

Kovind said that the government and the Opposition both have important roles to play in a democracy. “While giving expression to their political ideas, both must move forward in tandem to ensure that development of the country and welfare of its people are promoted consistently,” he said.

Kovind said the Constitution gave citizens rights but also the responsibility to ensure justice, liberty, equality and fraternity – “the central tenets of our democracy”.

About the young generation, Kovind said: “We are now in the third decade of the twenty-first century. This will be the decade of the rise of New India and a new generation of Indians. More and more of those born in this century are participating in the national discourse. With the passage of time, we are gradually losing living links with our great freedom struggle, but there is no reason to worry about the continuity of the beliefs that guided it. With advances in technology, the young minds of today are better informed and more confident.”

The remarks came at a time when protests are going on across the country against the Citizenship Amendment Act, which critics say discriminate against Muslims.