President Pranab Mukherjee has refrained from commenting on Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai inviting the prime ministers of India and Pakistan to the award ceremony even as he lauded her “courage and indomitable spirit”.
“Constitutionally, the Indian President is above day to day politics…So, what the leaders should do or not do, I leave it to them. I would not like to make any comment,” he said in media interviews here adding that he had severed his political connections the day he decided to contest presidential elections.
However, the president was full of praise for Malala whom he described as a young girl who represents courage and indomitable spirit which is the driving force of civilization.
“I don’t know from where she got this courage and conviction but she has stayed true to her conviction and risked her life, she did not deviate from her mission even a single millimetre. I am happy that her service and fighting spirit to liberate women and educate them has been recognised by Nobel Peace Committee,” he said.
He also lauded the efforts of India’s Kailash Satyarthi who shares the prize with Malala saying he has been recognized by various organisations for his activities against child labour for quite some time.
“He is known for not only building an awareness campaign but also setting up institutional arrangements through which he got them freed from work, gave them education and later, helped them establish themselves in life,” Mukherjee said.
To a question whether the Prize puts pressure on the Indian government to do more on the issue of child rights, the president said irrespective of pressure, every government and every society must pay attention to children’s rights.
When asked about sexual violence against women in India, Mukherjee said country was extremely sorry for rape which he termed as “most heinous crime” which no civilised society allows to happen.
He however said that investments must not be linked with sexual violence as these are an aberration.
“As far as attracting investments are concerned, I don’t think these should be linked. If you look at investments from abroad in India in this period, in the last three years, it was more than USD 117 billion…Therefore, one should not link investments with such issues. People recognise that this is an aberration and has to be checked,” the president said.
He said whatever should have been done, has been done and all possible efforts have been taken by us.
The president said legal administrative action is being taken, laws are being strengthened for speedy trials, providing for severe punishment which can act as strong deterrent to these type of activities in addition to building social awareness.
He said these incidents are unfortunate and condemnable.
“This is not India. It is an aberration. It is a perversion. We believe in women power. Our civilisational values, our Constitution, our history gives equal opportunities to our women,” Mukherjee said.