New Delhi, Feb 11: President Pranab Mukherjee today inaugurated the 46th Conference of Governors with the assertion that the Governors must ensure affairs of States and Union Territories are conducted in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Constitution.
In his opening address, the President said the Constitution of India is the guiding document that provides the framework for governance. Every Indian looks forward to the Constitution as the guarantor of her liberties, freedom and equality. Any deviation from the principles and provisions embodied in the Constitution would weaken the democratic fabric of the country and jeopardise the social, economic and political well-being of our citizens. The Governors and Lt. Governors have the primary responsibility to ensure that the affairs of the States and Union Territories are conducted strictly in accordance with the letter and spirit of this hallowed document. Prevalence of peace and communal harmony must be ensured.
The President said the development of North-East is a priority area. Much needs to be done for infrastructure development and to harness its tourism potential. Ethnic violence in Assam needs to be countered effectively, especially the sinister motives to drive a wedge between Bodo and non-Bodo sections. The genuine aspirations of the Bodo people in terms of development must be addressed expeditiously. Under no circumstances can the spread of ethnic hatred be tolerated.
India as a nation follows the policy of maintaining peaceful relations with all countries. All disputes, relating to our border areas or otherwise, should be resolved through peaceful means, said Mukherjee.
Pointing out that over 60 per cent of India’s rural population lacks access or does not use sanitation facilities, the President said we must reverse this position by addressing issues like affordability and mindset by providing innovative solutions. The States and Union Territories should establish suitable administrative mechanisms to take Swachh Bharat Mission down to every village or civic ward, he said adding the Governors and Lt. Governors must use their persuasive skills and contribute towards meeting this laudable objective.
Speaking on issues relating to the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution, the President asked the Governors and Lt. Governors to closely monitor development programmes in targeted areaS with special focus on quality of education and health care.
The President said Autonomous Councils and Autonomous District Councils (ADCs), set up under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution in Assam Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura, enjoy legislative, executive, financial and judicial powers. Governors of these States have a pivotal role to play in the administration of these Areas. Village and municipal councils must be set up and elections conducted for decentralization of power. He was happy to learn that the Government is proposing to amend the Sixth Schedule to strengthen the democratic process in these Areas. There is also need to devolve more developmental funds to these Areas. Laws prevailing in these areas also need to be codified, the President emphasised.
India is projected to have the largest workforce in the world by 2025, with a surplus of 47 million workers against a shortage of 56.5 million skilled workers in the world, the President pointed out adding this demographic dividend is a double-edged sword. If its huge potential is tapped, it could become a powerful engine for growth. On the other hand, if we fail to do so, it could create social tension. The youth could become creators, innovators, builders and leaders of the future. But they can transform the future only with proper education. We must capitalize our advantage and enhance the employability of our youth through skilling, re-skilling and up-skilling.
The President said skill development is also important for the success of the Make-in-India campaign aimed at facilitating investment, fostering innovation and making India a world-class manufacturing hub. He expressed hope that the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship will evolve an appropriate skill development framework, remove the demand-supply disconnect for skilled manpower, promote Public-Private Partnerships and expand youth entrepreneurship education. He requested Governors and Lt. Governors to use every opportunity to promote these initiatives as well as to play a persuasive role in the implementation of Jan Dhan Yojana.