Cautioning against corruption in flagship welfare programmes, President Pratibha Patil said on Friday that she favoured reform of governance for effective delivery of public services for which administrators must be responsive to the needs of the people.
In her address to the nation on the eve of Independence Day, Patil said that the country has to be prepared to face the situation arising out of poor monsoon and asked the citizens to cooperate with the government in handling the swine flu situation. Patil said the expectations of the people were rising as they were becoming more aware of their rights and seek better opportunities. "Facilities, amenities and services meant for them whether they are living in rural or urban areas can be delivered smoothly only if there is an effective governance system that is less cumbersome but more transparent and accountable. There is outrage when money meant for welfare schemes is pilfered out by corrupt practices," she said. The President said the flagship programmes of the government were comprehensive ranging from health to education, employment to expanding social and economic infrastructure.
Patil said the implementation of welfare schemes will have to be at optimal levels for an impact to be made on the lives of the people. "Hence, the emphasis on reform of governance for effective delivery of public services is critical to change the lives of the people. "The administrators must be responsive to the needs of the people. Their work is a public service commitment, dedication and honesty should be the hallmarks of their work," she said.
The President said this year the monsoon has been less than normal impacting agriculture and availability of water. The nation has to be prepared to face the situation. The government is taking all possible steps to deal with it. Patil said the government is also taking necessary measures to handle the H1N1 influenza. Citizens have to come forward to contribute to government's efforts in these areas and in other development initiatives through public-private partnerships, NGOs, community groups or Self Help Groups. "An enlightened citizenry conscious of its civic duties and social responsibilities, maintaining discipline, following good habits particularly about hygiene and cleanliness, respectful towards nature's bounty and sensitive to environmental concerns is the greatest asset of a nation," she said.
The President said even in the face of a global slowdown, which demands that India manages the economy to counter its effects, the nation must work to continue its upward trajectory. "We have a large domestic market and inherent strengths to drive the economy forward. As we focus on areas of proven strength, on building of infrastructure throughout the country and rural development, it should be our incessant endeavour to expand into new areas of growth," she said. Patil said the narrative of growth should be a story of opportunity and a life of dignity for all. Social empowerment requires considerable amount of work and, hence, must occupy centre stage in the country's national consciousness.
"There are the weaker and the vulnerable sections of society who are not full partners in the growth and development process and remain on the sidelines. These sections of society need to be drawn into the national mainstream. They need to be given access to education, health and skill-building - the tools of empowerment," she said. The President said India should build its destiny on a culture of peace and harmony. There should be harmony between good traditions and progress. Patil said India's unity has been brought about by the philosophy of harmony which seeks to resolve differences rather than widen them.
"Peaceful co-existence is inherent in our culture. Terrorism, which targets innocent people, is the very anti-thesis of peaceful co-existence. It is condemnable because it is against the tenets of every religion and faith. It must be defeated in the interest of collective goal of human kind to build peaceful societies and a peaceful world". The President said India adhered to secularism, equality and respect for all religions and if it has to progress, communal harmony is important. "Let us prove that we can be united as human beings and not divided. Let fight against violence and extremism and be an important part of promoting peace and harmony," she said adding if the people were to be bound by feelings of hatred, mistrust and apathy, the country would never move forward," she said.