New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday made a veiled attack at "endemic" protests against corruption warning that the country would be "flirting with chaos" if its democratic institutions come under an assault.
    
Mincing no words in underlining the dangers in undermining institutions like Parliament, he said legislation cannot be wrenched away from legislature or justice from judiciary.

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We need a second freedom struggle: Pranab
Youth aspirations should be met: Pranab

President describes Parliament as the soul of people

He described Parliament as "the soul of the people, the 'Atman' of India".
    
The President's comments against the backdrop of anti-corruption protests of Anna Hazare and Ramdev came in his maiden address to the nation on the eve of 66th Independence Day.
    
In a speech that covered India's emergence as a stable democracy and its economic growth post-Independence, the new President also warned that if progress fell behind rising aspirations of the youth "rage will manifest".
    
Earlier last month in his acceptance speech after his election to the post, Mukherjee had said that trickledown theories do not address the legitimate aspirations of the poor.

Indian economy achieves critical mass

In Tuesday's address, he said if Indian economy has achieved critical mass, then it must become a launching pad for the next leap. "We need a second freedom struggle; this time to ensure that India is free for ever from hunger, disease and poverty."

Mukherjee said, "anger against the bitter pandemic of corruption is legitimate, as is the protest against this plague that is eroding the capability and potential of our nation.
    
"There are times when people lose their patience but it cannot become an excuse for an assault on our democratic institutions," he said without referring to either Hazare or Ramdev.

Democratic institutions: Pillars of Constitution  

The President, a veteran parliamentarian, said the institutions were the visible pillars of the Constitution and if they crack, then the idealism of the Constitution cannot hold.
    
"They are the interface between principles and the people. Our institutions may have suffered the weariness of time; the answer is not to destroy what has been built, but to re-engineer them so that they become stronger than before. Institutions are the guardians of our liberty," he said.
    
Asserting that legislation cannot be taken away from legislature, Mukherjee said the people have a right to express their discontent.
    
"But we must also understand that legislation cannot be wrenched away from the legislature or justice from the judiciary.

The President said when authority becomes authoritarian, democracy suffers; "but when protest becomes endemic, we are flirting with chaos."

Democracy is a shared process: Pranab  

"Democracy is a shared process. We all win or lose together. Democratic temper calls for dignity of behaviour and tolerance of contrary views. Parliament will live by its own calendar and rhythm.
    
"Sometimes that rhythm sounds a bit atonal; but in a democracy there is always judgement day, an election. Parliament is the soul of the people, the 'Atman' of India. We challenge its rights and duties at our peril," Mukherjee said.
    
He said he was saying this not in a spirit of admonition but as plea for greater understanding of existential issues that lurk behind the mask of the mundane.
    
"Democracy is blessed with a unique opportunity for redress of grievance through the great institutions of accountability -- free elections," Mukherjee said.
    
The President said the young thirst for knowledge that will lift their skills; and for opportunity that will put India on the fast track to the first world.
    
"They have the character; they need the chance. Education is the seed; and economy is the fruit. Provide good education; disease, hunger and poverty will recede.

All for knowledge and knowledge for all   

"As I said in my acceptance speech, our motto must be: All for knowledge and knowledge for all. Vision cannot be an open-ended vista; it must be focused on our youth," the President said.

(Agencies)

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