President's I-Day address: 'Maoists must come for talks'
Asking Maoists to abandon the path of violence, President Pratibha Patil on Saturday said they must come to the negotiating table for working out a solution. Addressing the nation on the eve of 64th Independence Day, she also said terrorism poses the biggest threat to global peace and to defeat it all nations should come together and ensure that terrorists do not get sanctuaries and financial assistance.
"The proponents of extreme ideologies and the followers of Left Wing Extremism must abandon their path of violence. I call on them to join national efforts for growth and development," she said in the address telecast on national television.
Maintaining that protracted development efforts will be required in the Naxal-affected areas, Patil hoped that everybody, including the civil society, will come forward and move the left wing extremists in this direction.
The President said nation-building demands the ability to work diligently and patiently, where the reward is the growth of the nation rather than personal promotion and it requires unity of purpose and the ability to focus on issues which unite.
"It requires a spirit of conciliation. This is possible when dialogue is chosen as the channel for communication. By listening to each other, respecting each other's viewpoint and understanding one another, we can address issues before us," she said.
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Image: CRPF personnel in New Delhi pay their last respects near the coffins of policemen who died in a Maoist attack in Dantewada
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
'Terrorism is the biggest threat to global peace'
Terming terrorism as the biggest threat to global peace, stability and security, the President said peace was essential, if prosperity was to be achieved and to defeat terror, all nations of the world must work collectively.
"...so that terrorists have no sanctuaries, no training grounds, no access to financial resources, no infrastructural support, and no defenders of their ideology," she said.
Patil said powers have been given to those in government for formulating policies and for implementation on the field and it should always be remembered that this power must be used in a responsible manner.
"Zero tolerance towards corruption and working with the highest standards of public service will definitely result in efficient governance systems and will have a multiplier effect on development and growth," she said.
The President said everyone must be law abiding and also work for moral uplift as there has been an increasing emphasis on materialism and growing insensitivity towards each other.
"Strong family bonds are weakening. Social consciousness is on the decline. Some social evils persist. This must change. Today is the best opportunity when ground-breaking achievements alongwith a moral and ethical renaissance can take place," she said.
Patil said India is at a historic phase when the world is shifting course and it is impacting the country's economy, polity, trade, commerce, education and pace of life.
"In this era of transformation, India definitely cannot lag behind. Our entire effort must be to ensure that there is overall development in which all people prosper," she said.
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Image: A policeman looks at a message displayed on digital screen during one minute silence for victims of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks
Photographs: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters
'The future holds great potential and promise'
The President said India's credentials as the world's largest democracy have been further reinforced with the deepening of democracy at all levels. "We have elected bodies existing from the national to the grassroot level," she noted.
"Democracy has given citizens the right to participate in the affairs of the nation. It has become a way of life in India," she said.
Patil said, on the economic front, the country is ranked as the world's fourth largest economy based on purchasing power parity and is one of the fastest growing.
"The resilience of our economy was evident during the global financial crisis which we weathered, better than many other countries. The future holds great potential and promise. However, many issues demand attention and the way we address them is important," she said.
The President said it must be everyone's endeavour to ensure the welfare of all and it was for this reason that India has adopted inclusive growth as a pillar of its economic edifice and was pro-actively pursuing it.
"Our task will be complete only when no one sleeps on a hungry stomach, when no one sleeps on the footpath and when every child is in school. Therefore, fittingly, education, capacity building, housing, healthcare and nutrition are a priority on the agenda of the government," she said.
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Image: A Delhi Metro rail carriage is lifted on to a track for the trial runs of a new line in New Delhi on June 27, 2010
Photographs: Mukesh Gupta/Reuters
'Agriculture cannot be looked at in isolation'
The President said empowerment through education is important as it opens many doors of opportunity and the Right to Education Act has made free and compulsory primary education for children a fundamental right.
"It is important that secondary education is also universalised, as we seek to increase enrolment levels in higher education. This will provide the 'brain power' for the nation," she said.
Patil said people are living in an age where innovation was shaping many areas of human activity, new technologies can enhance agriculture and industrial productivity and efficient technologies can facilitate the optimum utilisation of capital, labour and resources.
"We have seen the impact of mobile telephone connectivity even in our villages. Innovation and invention were always given weightage as agents of change but perhaps never as high as now. The categorisation of nations as rich and poor, developed and developing may well be overtaken by a new definition of those nations that innovate rapidly, as opposed to those which do so on a lower scale," she said.
"To be in the forefront of cutting edge technologies, research and development in all fields must be encouraged and pursued in the country," she said.
The President said work on the construction of physical infrastructure must be speeded up as the country needs new roads, ports, airports, power projects as well as reinforcement of existing facilities.
"The augmentation will fill the infrastructural deficit that impedes overall economic growth and is, in many ways, out of sync with our image of an emerging global player. Our industries must continue to grow. Indian companies should persist with efforts to be efficient and globally competitive. Some are already making their presence felt overseas," she said.
Patil said the country's agriculture requires a fresh perspective, with new and radical ideas to steer it towards a second Green Revolution, so that agriculture production, productivity and profitability are increased. "This is essential for our food security as well as price stabilisation," she said.
"At the same time, agriculture cannot be looked at in isolation. It needs to be connected with other sectors of the economy. Linking industry with agriculture would provide a basis for growth of industry in the rural areas and also promote agriculture business," she added.
Image: Farmers are silhouetted aas they walk through a paddy field on the outskirts of Agartala
Photographs: Jayanta Dey/Reuters