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Sonia Gandhi: Address the root causes of Naxalism

Last updated on: May 20, 2010 12:59 IST
The rise of Naxalism is a reflection of the need for our development initiatives to reach the grassroots, wrote Congress President Sonia Gandhi in the April edition of her party's publication Sandesh

Parliament is in session once again and we have a full calendar ahead of us. We have many significant issues to discuss and debate. I hope that in this final Budget Session for 2010, we will not waste precious time but instead use the parliamentary process to address the issues that are most critical for our country.

There are several important pieces of legislation that need to be debated and passed in this session. I am hopeful that the Opposition will work with us to ensure that parliamentary proceedings in this session are productive, so we can make progress on the tasks of governance.

As we know, our country faces enormous challenges, and chief amongst them is the continuing poverty and lack of access still faced by the poor and dispossessed. While our government has been implementing policies that seek to fight poverty and empower the poor, much remains to be done. Since coming to power in 2004, the UPA government has initiated several important social development programmes. The Mahatma Gandhi NREGA and the Right to Information Act are amongst our major achievements.

In keeping with this spirit of substantial and meaningful empowerment of the poor, we are preparing to roll out the Right to Education Act. The Right to Education Act will ensure that education becomes a fundamental entitlement for every citizen of India. It will give the poor and marginalised access to quality education, where they don't have it yet.

We have to ensure that our youth are ready and equipped to participate in national development and benefit from the numerous opportunities that will be generated as a result of India's continuing economic growth. Our government is fully committed to implementing this Act in letter and spirit. It is our sincere hope that the States will come on board in ensuring full implementation of this seminal law and cooperate in ensuring that red tape and corruption does not dilute the intended results.

The UPA government is currently engaged with the drafting of another bill that will strike at the very roots of poverty and deprivation in our country. This is the Right to Food Bill, the contours of which are currently being finalized. Access to food needs to be a fundamental right.

Our country is also facing an enormous challenge from the Naxalites. We have recently lost 73 brave jawans of the CRPF in an attack in Chhattisgarh. Our thoughts go out to the grieving families of these men who have lost their lives. While we must address acts of terror decisively and forcefully, we have to address the root causes of Naxalism.

The rise of Naxalism is a reflection of the need for our development initiatives to reach the grass roots, especially in our most backward tribal districts. This is why our government is putting in place more targeted development schemes for our most backward districts.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh participated in several important international meetings. He was in the United States of America to discuss issues of Nuclear Disarmament. You will recall that Shri Rajiv Gandhi was one of the great advocates of universal nuclear disarmament. He raised the matter at the United Nations in June 1988 and since then; India has consistently attempted to bring about an international consensus on this issue.

The Prime Minister also had the opportunity to attend the IBSA and BRICS summit in Brasilia, where he interacted with the Heads of States of Brazil, South Africa, China and Russia. These are important regional groupings that reflect the growing importance of India and other emerging economies in the new world order.

This month we celebrated the birth of Dr B R Ambedkar, leader and architect of our Constitution. Dr Ambedkar fought for equality of all Indians, especially for the rights of the underprivileged. The Congress party, by launching a mass movement in Uttar Pradesh on the occasion of his birthday, pays tributes to him and resolves to continue to be inspired by thoughts and actions.

Let us persevere to keep moving forward.

Jai Hind!

Sonia Gandhi