Kolkata: President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday said the government is actively pursuing its ambitious Act East Policy, which will involve economic initiatives and building connectivity projects in the Asia-Pacific Region.
“The projects and initiatives will be beneficial for not only India’s eastern and northeastern states, but will also help in connectivity with neighbouring countries. The people of Bengal are crucial to this programme and being a border state, Bengal has certain advantages and also certain responsibilities. Forces of radicalism and extremism, some of them with cross-border linkages, seek to take advantage of our democratic spaces. We must guard against this,” the President said while speaking at a civic reception programme organised in his honour by the West Bengal government.
The President is on his maiden visit to the state after assuming office in July.
“In 2022, India will celebrate 75 years of freedom. Our nation owes so much to Bengal and the sacrifices and achievements of the people of this land. We will have to ensure that the state has a great future too. Its economy must sing again and its farmers must acquire modern techniques and knowledge,” Kovind said.
“Our national anthem was written on the soil of Bengal by Nobel laureate Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. Our national song, a rallying cry for our freedom fighters, was composed by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee as early as the 19th century and our beloved slogan, Jai Hind, was given to us by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, a great son of Bengal who is cherished, remembered and missed to this day in all parts of our country. These three – Gurudev Rabindranath, Maharishi Bankim and Netaji Subhas – were instrumental in defining our nationalism. Our freedom came much faster because of the energy they gave to our people,” he said.
The President also talked about the great legacy of Bengal in various spheres of life, including social reforms, science, education, literature, art and cinema.
“Bengal is the land of Mishti (sweets), Adda (symposiums and intellectual exchanges) and Football,” the President said, which was greeted with a loud round of applause. Kovind told the gathering that he would love to return to Bengal and Kolkata.
Earlier, while welcoming the President, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee gifted him one of her painting’s.
“I am touched by the gesture of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that she has gifted me her own painting. It will surely hang on the walls of the Rashtrapati Bhavan,” said Kovind.
On Wednesday, the President is scheduled to visit Jorasanko, Tagore’s ancestral home, and Netaji Bhavan, the residence of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
He will also visit the global headquarters of Ramakrishna Math at Belur and attend the closing ceremony of the centenary celebrations of Bose Institute, a premier research institute established by Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose.