A day after his name was announced for the Bharat Ratna award, former president Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday called upon countrymen to strive to protect and preserve the foundational ethics of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity as enshrined in the Constitution.
Wishing fellow citizens on the 70th Republic Day, he urged them to strengthen their resolve to live up to the ideals of the Constitution.
"As the Indian republic turns 70 years old, I wish each & every citizen in India and abroad a very Happy Republic Day. The foundation of this great democratic republic was laid down by our founding fathers in our Indian Constitution," he said on Twitter.
After the honour was bestowed on him, Mukherjee expressed his deep gratitude to the people of this country, saying, "As I have always said, in my public life I have received much more from the people and from this country than I have given to it."
He said "with all humility, I accept this honour".
The former president said the highest honour for any individual in the country was to be the citizen of India and he was proud of it.
Mukherjee also unfurled the national flag at his residence in central Delhi and took the salute from a contingent of CRPF personnel deployed there.
"Our founding fathers have guided us this far, let us go farther with greater vigour and spirit to create an India of our dreams. On this Republic Day, let us strengthen our resolve to live up to the ideals of our Constitution.
"The dynamism of our Constitution exemplified in the ideals of Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity sets the tone of our development. We must strive to protect and preserve these foundational ethics," he also said.
He said the country began its new journey 70 years ago and has covered a long distance from where it started.
The former president said India has always celebrated its diversity, enjoyed its plurality.
The unique thing about India that inspires all is its huge multitude of people using different languages in their daily life and yet living under one flag and one Constitution, he said.
This uniqueness, Mukherjee said, is possible as the Constitution adopted and operationalised on January 26, 1950, provides the glue which keeps different groups of people together.
He said one can rededicate themselves to pursue the path of Constitutionalism, which is a sacred text for all, that promised not only to give an instrument for administration but an instrument to make the peaceful socio-economic transformation.
The government Friday announced conferring on Mukherjee the Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian award, for his contribution to public life. The late singer Bhupen Hazarika and the late Jana Sangh leader Nanaji Deshmukh were also conferred the Bharat Ratna.