A tribute to President K R Narayanan

The former president K R Narayanan passed away this week. P Sainath, a fantastic journalist, has written a wonderful article about the former president. If you, like me, didn’t know much about the former president, then you must read this article.

Another piece to read is the former president’s Republic Day speech in 2000. Brilliant and relevant, even today. Here are some excerpts:

While Government must be held responsible for environmental and human consequences of mega projects, the responsibility for environmental protection cannot however lie with Government alone. It must also be borne by civil society.

There is need to improve the tone of our social and economic life through improved work ethic and environmental behavior. Far too many of us lack the professional pride to see a task well performed, a responsibility well borne. Accountability in the delivery of public services is shockingly low. One reason why our infrastructure remains weak is that the quality of civil work executed is poor – compromised by sub-standard materials, corrupt practices and sloppy supervision.

If on an occasion like this golden jubilee of our Republic we ponder some of these issues, it would be the better for us. While there is need to be honest with ourselves, I must emphasize, we must act, not despair.

In moments of crisis we rise gloriously to the occasion as few societies do. The late war in Kargil showed it; the cyclone in Orissa did so too. And, even more recently, the stoic fortitude with which the nearly 170 passengers and crew aboard the hijacked plane showed how we are capable of the highest endurance, calm, fortitude and human care.

But we do not have to reserve our best qualities for national or natural calamities; they should manifest themselves in our daily life.

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