Take extra care to lessen suffering of poor post note ban, says president Pranab Mukherjee
Extra care must be taken to alleviate sufferings of the poor triggered by economic slow down which has become unavoidable post demonetisation, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Thursday.
Demonetisation, while immobilising black money and fighting corruption, may lead to "temporary slowdown" of the economy, the President said addressing the Governors and Lt Governors through video-conferencing from Rashtrapati Bhavan.
"We all will have to be extra careful to alleviate the suffering of the poor which might become unavoidable for the expected progress in the long-term," Mukherjee said.
He said that while he appreciates the thrust on transition from entitlement approach to an entrepreneurial one for poverty alleviation, he is not too sure that the "poor can wait that long".
"They need to get succour here and now so that they can also participate actively in the national march toward a future devoid of hunger, unemployment and exploitation," the President said.
Mukherjee said the recent package announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi will provide some relief.
There will be elections in as many as seven states this year and the dates for elections in five of them have already been announced, the President said.
"The conduct of free and fair elections has made our democracy one of the most vibrant in the world. Elections reflect the attitudes, values and beliefs of the people towards their political environment," he said.
Cautioning about competitive populism, electoral rhetoric and vote bank politics during elections, Mukherjee said noisy debates can "deepen the fault-lines in the society".
"Goodwill must prevail between different communities. At times, harmony may be put to test by vested interests. Communal tensions may rear their ugly head. Rule of law must form the sole basis of dealing with any such challenging situation," the President said.
He said the Governors and Lt Governors command respect and attention of the people of their state and they can play a role in easing tensions in the society.
"Through your interaction and wise counsel, you can play an important role in easing the tensions in the society," he said in his address.
He said, "In a pluralistic democracy like ours, tolerance, respect for contrary views and patience are a must which have to be preserved.
"India's strength lies in her diversity. The multiplicity in culture, faith and language is what makes India special. There will always be divergent strands in public discourse. We may argue. We may disagree. But we cannot deny the prevalence of multiplicity of opinion," Mukherjee said.
The President asked Governors and Lt Governors to inculcate among the citizens of their states this fundamental ethos of the civilisation.
Mukherjee said the year gone was a year of mixed fortunes.
"It began on a very promising note with the economy performing well, overcoming the weak global economic trends. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 7.2% in the first half of 2016-17 -- same as that of last year-- is a pointer to the fact that our economic recovery has been on solid grounds," he said.
In 2014 and 2015, below normal rains had caused rural distress but a good monsoon in 2016 is expected to improve agricultural production and increase rural employment and incomes, Mukherjee said.
"Though our exports have been affected by weak global demand, we have a stable external sector. Reviving exports will remain a challenge but we can overcome it by improving the competitiveness of the domestic industry," he said.
The President asked the Governors and Lt Governors to protect, preserve and defend the Constitution as they had taken an oath when they assumed this exalted office.
"This pious document protects the liberty of the people and promotes the well-being of the citizens. It decrees inclusiveness, tolerance, self-restraint, and protection of women, senior citizens and weaker sections as essential ingredients of our polity. Our institutions of democracy must operate on these vital features," he said.
Mukherjee said strong credible institutions lead to good governance ensuring a healthy functioning of the democracy.
The President also asked them to work with the academic leaders to effect holistic changes for quality up-gradation in the institutions of higher learning.
He also asked them to promote art and culture in their respective states.
"As I have said elsewhere, art and culture are our link with the past. They provide the foundation for our current thought and by extension, the platform for our future action. They also provide a stable base to life and make it possible for us to have a joyous existence.
"With art and culture, we can experience life in its fullest and most meaningful form. They add to the overall happiness and well-being of the society," he said.