Bengal, North East have role to play in India’s ‘Act East’policy: Ram Nath Kovind

Kolkata: President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday said the Government of India has embarked on an ambitious Act East Policy, which involves building connectivity projects and taking economic initiatives.

Maintaining that these projects and initiatives would be beneficial to India’s eastern and north eastern states, besides neighbouring countries, the president, speaking at a civic reception organised in his honour here, said, “The people of Bengal are crucial to this programme.

Being a border state gives Bengal certain advantages. It also gives it 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.”

“Our nation building owes so much to Bengal and the sacrifices and achievements of the people of this land. A galaxy of revolutionary heroes from Bengal helped us get independence, each doing his or her little bit, quietly, without seeking any reward,” President Kovind said.

He added,”Bengal has been central to our national identity. Our national anthem, Jana Gana Mana, was written on the soil of Bengal by the Nobel Laureate Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. Gurudeb ke pronam korte jabo. Tomorrow morning, I plan to visit Jorasanko, Gurudev’s ancestral home, to pay my heartfelt tributes.

Our national song, Vande Mataram, a rallying cry for our freedom fighters, was composed by Maharishi 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 and a leader 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 faster because of the energy they gave our people.”

“Somehow, in some manner, this state has touched every Indian and enriched the life of every Indian. Every Indian child has grown up on stories about Bengal or written in Bengal. Bengal has a great history – but it is for each one of us to ensure that Bengal also has a great future,” President Kovind said.

The president said that in 2022, India will be celebrating 75 years as a free country. Bengal, he added, was one of the leaders of our freedom movement, and must now lead this effort for a better India by 2022.