Diversity is key to India's success, says Prez Kovind
Ram Nath Kovind was on Tuesday sworn in as India's 14th president, the first BJP leader and the second Dalit in the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Kovind was administered the oath of office to "preserve, protect and defend the constitution and law" by Chief Justice of India J S Kehar in an impressive ceremony in the Central Hall of Parliament.
The 71-year-old took oath in Hindi to thunderous applause and thumping of desks by the gathering, including Vice President Hamid Ansari, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee and former president Pratibha Patil.
The elaborate ceremony for a change of guard in India's highest Constitutional office started on Tuesday with a gentle knock on the door of President-elect Ram Nath Kovind's Akbar Road residence.
It was Military Secretary to the President, Major General Anil Khosla, inviting 71-year old Kovind and his wife Savita to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, where President Pranab Mukherjee was waiting for them in the study.
The two leaders then went to the grand Rashtrapati Bhavan forecourt where they were escorted to the saluting dais.
Mukherjee took the last salute of the President's Bodyguard (PBG) with President-elect Kovind standing to his left.
He and his successor then drove down Raisina Hill to the Central Hall of the Parliament in a black limousine. Escorting them was a grand equestrian procession by the PBG, dressed in white ceremonial uniforms and blue turbans with gold ornamental work.
The road from Rashtrapati Bhavan to Parliament was lined with jawans of the armed forces.
The morning had begun with the president-elect offering floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat.
In his inaugural speech, the newly-elected President said the key to India's success is its diversity and asked people to build a country that is "an economic leader and well as a moral exemplar".
Kovind said there is need to sculpt an educated, ethical and shared community, and an egalitarian society.
"We have achieved a lot as a nation, but the effort to do more, to do better and to do faster is relentless. It is appropriate that the land of Lord Buddha should lead the world in its search for peace, tranquillity and ecological balance," he said.