India must remember unsung community heroes: President

New Delhi, Jan 28 (IANS) India must commemorate the heroes and heroines of its villages who strive against odds in the belief they can make a positive difference for their community - without any fanfare or hope of recognition, President Pranab Mukherjee said Monday.

"India must remember the countless unsung heroes and heroines in our villages, who render service to the community, without seeking any reward and with little recognition," he said, addressing the recipients of the Times of India's social impact awards here.

"The winners are extraordinary people who have had the vision to look beyond every day cynicism to a brighter horizon. They have had the courage and determination to brave tremendous odds and believe that they could make a difference. And they had the selflessness to do so quietly," he said.

The president made a special mention of the joint winners of the Lifetime Achievement Award - Meira Paibi (Manipur) and the Naga Mothers' Association (Nagaland saying they come from a region that is far from the mainstream and does not get much attention in the national media.

"They have served as peacemakers in a frequently conflict-ridden area. They are living testimony to the healing power that women have to offer a troubled world," he said.

Mukherjee stressed that any great republic is defined by the vision and values of its people and the quality of its institutions.

"Our nation must have the ability to constantly reinvent itself in accordance with changing times," said the president.

Recalling the childhood days in his native village in West Bengal, the president said the age old natural and spontaneous systems that supported community workers and acknowledged their contribution have disappeared and new ones need to be created.

"Many of these have sadly disappeared with time. Urbanisation, economic expansion and migration have taken their toll. We are in a state of flux when we have lost our old moorings but are yet to discover new ones."

Noting it would not be possible to bring these back, he called for evolving new institutions and platforms to fill this void.

The president urged the corporates to take their social responsibilities with seriousness.

"Profit should not be the only motive for companies. The greatest triumphs and achievements cannot always be captured in a balance sheet. Helping a child achieve literacy, equipping an unskilled person earn a livelihood, saving a life - the value of such actions cannot be expressed in figures. But in reality, they represent a priceless return on your investment of time, money and effort," he said.

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