New Delhi, Jan 26: While addressing the nation on the eve of Republic Day, President Pranab Mukherjee lamented the brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old paramedical student in a moving bus in the national capital on Dec 16, 2012.
In his maiden address to the nation as India's President, Mukherjee stressed on the need to bring gender equality. The gang-rape victim died in a hospital in Singapore on Dec 29, 2012. The incident triggered nationwide protests to demand better security for women.
India celebrated its 64th Republic day on Saturday, Jan 26.
"I speak to you when a grave tragedy has shattered complacency," said the President.
"The brutal rape and murder of a young woman, a woman who was symbol of all that new India strives to be, has left our hearts empty and our minds in turmoil. We lost more than a valuable life; we lost a dream. If today young Indians feel outraged, can we blame our youth?" Mukherjee asked the nation.
He referred to Hindu texts Vedas to bring to light position of women in Indian society.
"There is a law of the land. But there is also a higher law. The sanctity of a woman is a directive principle of that larger edifice called Indian civilization. The Vedas say that there is more than one kind of mother: birth mother, a guru's wife, a king's wife, a priest's wife, she who nurses us, and our motherland. Mother is our protection from evil and oppression, our symbol of life and prosperity. When we brutalise a woman, we wound the soul of our civilization," said the President.