The full text of the President’s Republic Day eve address:
On the eve of the 58th Republic Day of India, my greetings to all of you in the country and those living abroad. I convey my special greetings to the members of our Armed Forces and the Paramilitary Forces, who guard our frontiers on land, at sea and in the air and also the central and state level police including the internal security forces.
Friends, when we are celebrating the 58th Republic Day, I was thinking what thoughts I can share with you. Shall I talk to you on what message I got during my visits to various parts of our country and my interactions with the people particularly the youth with their dreams or shall I talk to you about the proud feeling I had when farmers in Punjab succeeded in doubling seed cotton productivity in tune with the world record or shall I talk to you how a village in a North-Eastern state has become prosperous by developing its core competence in native silk production or shall I talk to you about the elation of Gujarat farmers celebrating the arrival of electricity in all the villages of the State or shall I talk to you about many great human beings whom I met in various parts of the country such as, one great soul providing leadership for transforming a polluted rivulet into a clean river in Punjab through the efforts of pilgrims themselves or about another divine soul who has connected the hearts of the people of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu through the flow of water or about another divine personality, building a bridge connecting the peninsular region to the mainland near Kochi over the backwaters of the Arabian Sea in the Tsunami affected area or shall I talk to you on how 65 villages with a population of one lakh in Tamil Nadu have generated a self-sustaining economy through PURA or shall I talk to you about the way that the judicial system of the State became a partner for on the spot disbursal of compensation to the victims of an earthquake in Jammu and Kashmir for ensuring timely compensation to the right persons or shall I talk to you about the bravery of our armed forces. I have already shared with you about these and other beautiful experiences that have made the Indian Republic proud. Such beautiful events and people have been changing the fabric of the nation.
What can I give?
In the eighties, children always used to ask me questions such as "When can I sing the Song of India?" Today, the youth are asking me, "What I can give to India?" This shows that the nation is on a positive growth trajectory. The change in pattern of the questions is indicative of the transformation which has taken place over the years. Also, I receive many e-mails and letters asking me "what I can give to India, my country?" When I study the letters, messages and mails that I have received and also the personal interactions with the people, I can clearly see abundant opportunities in which every citizen can contribute. I thought of sharing this with you: My topic of this address will be "What can I give to my nation?
Ambience in the Nation 2007
In Indian history, our nation has come across a situation, all at a time, an ascending economic trajectory, continuously rising foreign exchange reserves, increasing domestic investment with investors’ confidence rising steadily, global successes of Indian managerial and entrepreneurial talents, global recognition of technological competence, energy of 540 million youth, umbilical connectivities of more than 25 million people of Indian origin in various parts of the planet and the interest shown by many developed countries to invest in our engineers and scientists through setting up of new Research and Development Centres in India. The distinction between the public and the private sectors and the illusory primacy of one over the other is vanishing. Also, there is a trend that many young people are opting for creating new enterprises instead of being mere employees.
Providing leadership for the one billion people with multi-cultural, multi-language and multi-religious backgrounds is indeed the core competence of our nation. Our technological competence and value systems with civilisational heritage are highly respected by the world community. Also, Foreign Institutional Investors find investing in India attractive as the returns are high and assured. Indian industrialists are also investing abroad and opening new business ventures. Our Gross Domestic Product which stands at U.S. $ seven hundred and twenty nine billion is poised to grow at 10 percent annually which along with various other concurrent actions, will enhance the welfare of farmers, workers, professionals and unleash creativity of entrepreneurs, business persons, scientists, engineers and all other constituents of society. Today due to the open sky policy and competitiveness air travel has become affordable for the growing middle class. The Railways have introduced many improvements and people can book tickets through internet. The revolution in travel has not only connected people but also boosted tourism and the economy. Tele-density in the country has gone up to 18 percent. Mobile telephones are reaching the common man and serving their needs. The one India plan has made calling across the country easy and affordable. Our ICT sector is exporting more than U.S. $ twenty four billion and the Indian Pharma industry is ranked 4th in the world and exports nearly U.S. $ four billion of products. Our U.S. $ forty four billion automobile industry is growing at the rate of 17 percent per annum. Our total exports in the last 8 months has crossed U.S. $ eighty billion.
Our aerospace and aeronautical achievements are commendable. Six remote sensing satellites of various resolutions and spectral bands are providing valuable services in monitoring and management of natural resources. These have been further complemented with CARTOSAT-II launched on 10th January 2007 by PSLV-C7 along with the Space Capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE) and two other foreign satellites. The SRE after performing micro gravity experiments in orbit, has since been successfully recovered in Indian waters, leading to another technological milestone. Today, we have nine geo-stationary satellites in orbit including an exclusive EDUSAT for education. The country has successfully used advances in space technology and telecommunication towards creating tele-education as well as tele-medicine networks and village resource centres. SAKSHAT: The One Stop Education Portal has been launched by the Government to serve the quality education needs of 11th and 12th class students spread in any part of the country. Broadband has reached up to the block level in all the Districts. Students from abroad are coming to India for academic programmes, training and internship and many foreign institutions have started collaborating with Indian universities and academic institutions. India’s experience has resulted in providing the Pan African e-Network connecting 53 countries. The country has operationalised two strategic missile systems. A state-of-the-art super sonic cruise missile system has also entered into commercial production with an international partner.
The number of people living below poverty line has come down to 22 percent and our literacy rate will soon touch 75 percent. Our unemployment is around 9 percent of the employable population of 400 million people. The Central Government has launched comprehensive rural development programmes called Bharat Nirman Programme, Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission and Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme with substantial outlays for bringing the fruits of development equitably to all sections of society irrespective of where they reside. Implementation of PURA programmes has been undertaken by number of state governments and private institutions in the country resulting in a number of operational PURAs. The Central Government is planning to introduce two PURA Clusters in each district across the country as a first phase. People from all walks of life can be guiding forces and they can be partners in executing national development programmes and ushering in a good way of life. The State Governments have also launched a number of missions including rural and infrastructure development activities towards realising the goals of Vision 2020.
Against this backdrop, I would like to discuss with you the ambience in 2020 for which we as a nation have to work.
Ambience in 2020
If we perform in an integrated way with development politics as the focus, in mission mode with transparency, I visualise even before the year 2020, that a prosperous India is possible. We expect the people below the poverty line to come to near zero and our literacy must be nearly 100 percent. The Human Development Index of India will be less than 50 against the present 127. Every Indian will have either a good university degree or quality training with globally competitive employable vocational skills. E-governance would be in position for all Government to Government (G2G) and Government to Citizens (G2C) transactions making the governance system transparent with the National ID card in position. Tele-density will reach over 75 percent. All our villages will have reliable, uninterrupted quality electric power supply. The interlinking of rivers and water bodies and use of technology for water collection, water recycling and water management will result in equitable distribution of water for drinking, irrigation, industry, navigation and as natural beauty. There will be no shortage of water in any part of the country nor will there be disasters due to floods, water logging etc. India would have realised energy security and will be working towards energy independence. Good sanitation facilities will be available at homes in every part of India and for all Indians and tourists. We will be using more of renewable energy such as solar energy, wind power, bio-mass, mini and micro hydel and thorium based nuclear reactors, adding less to the pollution. Through responsive and innovative venture capital systems and entrepreneurial training both in schools and colleges, we will have more enterprises leading to a large number of employment generators rather than employment seekers. A pro-active healthcare system delivered through innovative schemes will provide quality healthcare access at an affordable cost to all the people of the country including those living in remote areas. Everyone will have an opportunity to take up and complete courses of choice in higher education. I am sure you will all see prosperity in the country, which will replace scarcity and control. In addition to the above economic, social and human development, India will also have a visible global presence in strategic sectors and will contribute to world peace. All our technological and economic advances while enhancing our prosperity would embed our value system derived from our civilisational heritage. This unique combination will make our growth robust and sustainable and will lead to a peaceful, secure, happy and prosperous society.
To achieve these goals, a national movement of development is essential. In this movement, every citizen, every constituent of our democracy has to participate. What can be the profile of people’s participation in this development movement? Citizens participation can be in many important areas like; Reaching the unreached, Feedback on service to the people, Human Resource Development, Entrepreneurship, Role of Home makers, Environment development, Youth participation in the political system with a focus on developed India.
Reaching the unreached
The Government has doubled credit availability to the agriculture sector in 2005-06 keeping 2004-05 as a base. NABARD and banking and financial institutions have to work together to find hassle-free methods of providing micro credit and micro investment to needy farmers so that they are weaned away from the clutches of elements who exploit them. Simultaneously, agricultural researchers, extension workers from academic institutions, non-governmental organisations and industry should work closely with farmers and enable them to increase productivity, storage, food processing and marketing. In addition, they should facilitate the farmers to undertake non-farm tasks on the lines of "one product per village cluster" scheme to promote export of products based on the core-competence of the village for increasing the sustainability of the rural sector as a whole. Insurance companies have to come forward with micro insurance, crop insurance and cattle insurance, apart from low cost medical insurance for providing risk cover to farmers. Similarly, units like mobile diagnostic clinics as in Uttarakhand may be operated in all the districts to reach medicare to the unreached. Recently, I have come across a number of initiatives by our judicial systems at various levels for fast delivery of justice such as legal aid clinics, mediation and conciliation, mobile court and lok-adalat and increasing the number of days and number of hours of working per day. These initiatives can be reinforced by having mobile courts reaching the village to deliver justice at the doorstep of rural citizens. The corporate sector may also think of reaching the unreached as an essential component of "Corporate Social Responsibility." In a world dominated by communication, extending communication from the privileged to include connectivity to the unreached should be part of our technological upheaval.
Feedback of Services
Though India is known to be one of the best destinations for outsourcing of many of the service and knowledge products, within our society we are yet to grow to appreciate and pay for the services. However, developed nations are gauged by the quality of service the citizens get from the government and from the corporate with which they do business. One mechanism by which we can continuously increase the quality of service is through feedback. This should be done by everyone without fear or bias. This feedback will enable all service providers to constantly improve the quality of service irrespective of what the service is. We will see a substantial increase in services such as electricity, water, telephone, gas, transportation, education, insurance, banking, legal and police. Service providers whether they are in Government or in the private sector have to take feedback in the right spirit and provide customer satisfaction both in the short-term and in the long-term. Customers should also acknowledge positive developments and celebrate improvements. This scenario should lead to pride of service and competitiveness.
Websites and Portals have all along been the best source for receiving feedback from the public, apart from meeting people directly. I have been visiting Government websites of many agencies. If the website does not provide latest information its utility diminishes and loses the purpose for which the government department websites were created. It is necessary that these websites are constantly updated so that they provide latest information and opportunities for feedback. The website may also be used to provide information on the action taken about a particular suggestion. It is essential that service providing organisations create a user forum and meet them regularly for proactively improving quality of service through a monitoring mechanism. Government officers should make use of e-governance portals and e-mails to stay continuously connected with the people and take necessary actions. The recent step of the government to introduce the Right to Information Act is a positive step towards transparency in governance.
Global Human Resources Cadre
Presently our university education system is contributing 3 million graduates and post graduates every year and students seeking employment after completion of 10th class and 10+2 class are around 7 million per year. Thus nearly 10 million youth are injected into the employment market every year. In the 21st century, India needs a large number of talented youth with higher education for the task of knowledge acquisition, knowledge imparting, knowledge creation and knowledge sharing. At present India has five hundred and forty million youth under the age of 25. This will continuously be growing till the year 2050. Keeping this resource in mind, the universities and educational systems should create two cadres of personnel: (i) a global cadre of skilled youth with specific knowledge of special skills (ii) another global cadre of youth with higher education. These two cadres will be required not only for powering the manufacturing and services sector of India but also will be needed for fulfilling the human resource requirements of various countries. Thus, the universities and secondary school education system will have to work towards increasing the through put of the higher education system from the existing 11 percent to 20 percent by the year 2015, 30 percent by the year 2020 and 50 percent by the year 2040. Other Indians who are not covered by the higher education system should all have world class skill sets in areas such as construction, carpentry, electrical systems, repair of mechanical systems, fashion design, para-legal, para-medical, accountancy, sales and marketing, software and hardware maintenance and service, software quality assurance to name a few. No Indian youth should be without either a world class higher education or without world class skill sets. This is an important task in which all universities, academic specialists, colleges, vocational training institutions, certification agencies, banking systems and industrial enterprises can contribute in terms of assessing correct numbers, designing courses related to nation building tasks, assessing and providing infrastructural requirement, improving quality of teachers, ensuring teachers-students ratio, complementing class room education with virtual class rooms through tele-education and above all ensuring that students are able to face international competition in employable skills. Systems must be designed in such a way that no aspiring competent student should be denied quality education. The system of education must be able to maintain the required output quality. These are examples of what the Government has to do to give an enabling environment and how those who operate education systems have to give to our youth. Then, our youth can give their knowledge skills in making the nation prosperous.
Orientation for entrepreneurship has to start right from the schools.