'Be prepared to face drought, battle swine flu'

President addresses the nation on the eve of the Independence Day


President Pratibha Devisingh Patil addresses the nation in New Delhi on Friday, on the eve of the country’s 63rd Independence Day. AFP

Addressing the nation on the eve of the Independence Day, she said: “Monsoon has been less than normal this year impacting agriculture and availability of water. We have to be prepared to face the situation. The government is taking all possible steps to deal with it.”

Referring to the swine flu spread, she said the government was taking necessary measures to handle the influenza. “Citizens have to come forward to contribute to the government’s efforts in these areas and in other development initiatives through public-private partnerships, NGOs, community groups or self-help groups.”

The president also called for bringing the weaker and vulnerable sections of society “who are not full partners in the growth and development process and remain on the sidelines” into the national mainstream.

She said these sections of society need to be given access to education, health and skill-building and the tools of empowerment. “This will equip them with abilities and capabilities and generate confidence about their future prospects and a sense of control over their destinies.”

Observing that signs of change were already there, she remarked: “People are today realising the advantages of being educated and are ready to seize opportunities.”

She said the passage of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill was a landmark legislation for achieving our goal of universal education.

“The National Mission on Empowerment of Women will socially and economically empower women — 50 percent of our population to play an active role in nation-building.”

Terrorism

Referring to terrorism, she said it was the 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 the collective goal of humankind to build peaceful societies and a peaceful world.”

The President sought to caution the government that the expectations of the people were rising, as they were becoming more aware of their rights and were seeking 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 by corrupt practices. The administrators must be responsive to the needs of the people,” she observed.

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