President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday asserted that while India remains committed to peace, its armed forces are "adequately mobilised" in a "well-coordinated" move to thwart any attempt to undermine national security as he referred to the "expansionist" move by China in Ladakh last year.
"Our national interest will be protected at all costs," the President declared in his address to the nation on the eve of the 72nd Republic Day during which he also sought to allay fears of farmers over the three contentious farm laws.
"The path of reform at the initial stages may cause misapprehensions but the government is singularly devoted to the farmers' welfare," he said, as the protests by the farmer unions demanding repeal of the three laws continues at border points in Delhi.
On the country's efforts to fight COVID-19, the President said an effective response to the pandemic would not have been possible without the Constitutional value of "Fraternity" among the people of the country. He also took pride in the fact that India was called as "pharmacy of the world" for supplying medicine to several countries to contain sufferings across the globe.
He felt that after about a year of this "unforeseen ordeal", India today stands "not despondent but confident."
Paying tributes to the 20 Indian soldiers who laid down their lives at Galwan valley in eastern Ladakh last June during clashes with the Chinese troops, the President said the past year "was a time of adversity, and it came from many fronts."
"We faced an expansionist move on our borders, but our valiant soldiers foiled it. To achieve this objective, 20 of them had to lay down their lives."
President Kovind said the nation shall remain grateful to those brave soldiers.
"Though we reiterate our commitment to peace, our defence forces – Army, Air Force and Navy – are adequately mobilised in a well-coordinated move to thwart any attempt to undermine our security. Our national interest will be protected at all costs. We have also ensured a widespread understanding in the international community of India's firm and principled stand," the President said.
India and China are locked in a nearly nine-month long military standoff in eastern Ladakh.
He said adversity often plays the role of a great teacher and makes people stronger and more confident. With that confidence, India has taken great strides in several sectors.
"Economic reforms have continued apace and have been supplemented by long-pending reforms in the areas of labour and agriculture through legislation. The path to reform at the initial stages may cause misapprehensions. However, it is beyond doubt that the Government remains singularly devoted to farmers' welfare," he added.
Mr Kovind said India is moving ahead and taking its rightful place in the world.
"During the recent years, its arc of influence has been expanding and encompassing the larger part of the world. The manner in which India got overwhelming support from the international community for its entry as a non-permanent member in the Security Council this year is indicative of that influence."
He said the engagement with world leaders has enhanced manifold and India, with its vibrant democracy, has rightfully earned its respect as a responsible and trustworthy nation.
Paying tributes to the farmers, the President said every Indian salutes our farmers who have made our vast and populous country self-reliant in food-grains and dairy products.
He said that despite adversities of nature, numerous other challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic the farmers sustained the agricultural production.
"A grateful nation is fully committed to the welfare of our farmers," he said.