A day after the ghastly terror attack on a CRPF convoy in Jammu & Kashmir, the Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has asserted that the efforts of the neighbouring country to destabilise India can no longer be tolerated. He said “It is unfortunate that our neighbour has been aiding, abetting, funding and training terrorist groups. This attempt to destabilise and impede out progress can no longer be tolerated. We must stand united in our resolve to make every inch of our motherland a safer place.”
At the release of the book “Selected Speeches” of Vice President, Shri Naidu by the former President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, hundreds of participants mourned the loss of lives of CRPF soldiers in the Pulwama terror attack by observing silence.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri Venkaiah Naidu spoke at length on the issues confronting the country and various institutions and the need for a united effort to build a good future for the people based on the past and effectively handling the complexities of the present.
Shri Naidu stressed that “Nationalism is all about asserting that ‘I am Indian first’. It is an overarching umbrella under which all our immediate identities are subsumed to form a larger collective. Unfortunately, certain misinformed individuals and organisations are fomenting trouble, and creating divisions where none existed before.” Nationalism implies sharing a common past, a common present and a common future and in our country that has shown the power of peaceful coexistence and non-violence to the world, the acts of bigotry and narrow sectarianism should be strongly condemn.
Referring to the Polls soon to be held for Lok Sabha and some State Assemblies, Shri Naidu said “I would like to see more men and women being elected as legislators and parliamentarians with national outlook and having in them the four virtues of Character, Calibre, Capacity and Conduct” and not to allow the political system to be vitiated by Cash, Caste, Community and Criminality. He urged the people to demand a report card from the public representatives and make a critical assessment of their effectiveness at the time of voting in the elections.
Conveying anguish over chronic disruptions in legislatures, Shri Naidu stated “Dysfunctional legislatures strengthen the demand for ‘recall of legislators’. I am afraid we are close to this stage if things do not change”. Stating that our legislatures instead of becoming effective forums of debate, are being reduced to ‘disruptive platforms’, Shri Naidu said “Against the backdrop of worrisome functioning of our Parliament and State Legislatures, this disruptive, dysfunctional tendency needs to be made an election issue”.
The Vice President noted that disrupting the functioning of legislatures is a clear negation of the vision of the makers of the Constitution, an affront to the spirit of the Constitution, apathy towards the hopes and aspirations of the people and utter disregard for people’s mandate. “It is a matter of concern that political discourse is reaching a new low in recent years. We should reverse this trend at the earliest” Shri Naidu said.
Referring to the just concluded Budget Session, the Chairman of Rajya Sabha Shri Naidu said that it was a matter of concern that despite the political slugfest over farm sector distress, the Members of Rajya Sabha and the parties did not find it necessary to discuss the direct income assistance to farmers announced in the interim Budget. He also noted that the Motion of Thanks to the President should have been adopted after detailed discussion. He particularly expressed concern over some leaders in Rajya Sabha telling him in the daily morning meetings that normal functioning of the House for the day cannot be allowed under instructions further to cropping up of some issue or the other instead of raising the same in the House.
Referring to Judiciary, the Vice President said it is disturbing to note the heavy pendency of cases and 67% of prisoners being under trials. He urged the Judiciary to play a constructive role in overcoming the formidable challenges to socio-economic development of the country and the public trust in Judiciary should not be allowed to be eroded.
Shri Naidu urged the MEDIA to function as Medium of Empowerment for Development through Informed Actions and to correlate the text with the context for informed communication to the readers and viewers.
Shri Naidu informed the gathering that since assuming the office of the Vice President of India and Chairman of Rajya Sabha, he has extensively interacted with various stakeholders in an earnest endeavour to stir their conscience to introspect and lend their might to realise the quest of our nation to reach new horizons, by invoking the nation’s past and reflecting on the present as the young India seeks to define and realise its future. He further said this ‘Connect India Mission’ has convinced him that change is possible if the countrymen can act united.
The Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Thaawar Chand Gehlot, the Minister of State for Youth Affairs & Sports and Information & Broadcasting (I/C), Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, the Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha, Shri Harivansh, the Secretary to the Vice President, Dr. I.V. Subba Rao, the Secretary, Ministry of I&B, Srhi Amit Khare and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.
Following is the text of Vice President’s address:
“Yesterday was a sad day for all of us in India. It was a day when terror raised its ugly head once again. As we pay homage to the supreme sacrifice made by our security personnel at the Pulwama terror attack, we must stand united in our resolve to make every inch of our motherland a safer place.
It is unfortunate that our neighbour has been aiding, abetting, funding and training terrorist groups. This attempt to destabilise and impede our progress can no longer be tolerated. In fact, there is an urgent need for all countries in the world to come to a firm resolve to combat these forces of terror, these enemies of humanity.
United Nations must conclude the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT). It should act firmly and effectively to root out terror through a multi-pronged strategy. It should recognize that ‘Peace’ is a prerequisite for ‘prosperity’ and the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development cannot be achieved if there is no peace.
I extend a warm welcome to all of you on the occasion of release of my book containing some of my speeches during my first year in office as Vice President of India and Chairman of Rajya Sabha.
I am particularly grateful to Shri Pranab da, the statesman politician of our times for honouring me by agreeing to release this book. He is one of our country’s leading lights, a ‘ratna’ who has done ‘Bharat’ proud. We are indeed delighted to have him with us today.
It was exactly 50 years ago that Pranab da entered Rajya Sabha for the first time in 1969 and was re-elected to the Upper House four more times. He was also Member of Lok Sabha twice during 2004-2012. He has the distinction of being the Minister of Finance, Defence and External Affairs besides being the Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission before becoming the President of India. He is also among the few who has been the Leader of both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. Known for his phenomenal memory and number crunching, he has a spectacular record of contributions as a Parliamentarian and an able minister. He is one of the jewels of our country and has been accordingly chosen for the highest civilian honour of ‘Bharat Ratna’ this year.
I owe all of you a brief account of this book based on my mission during the first year in the present role. In a nutshell, it is an earnest endeavor to stir the conscience of all stakeholders to introspect and lend their might to realize the quest of our nation to reach new horizons. I have made a sincere effort in that direction by recalling our past and reflecting on our present as the Young India seeks to define and realize it’s future.
Life of a nation, much like individual lives, unfolds in the two dimensions of time and space. We need to build the future of our nation based on the past and effectively cruising through the complexities of the present.
If we have to build on our past, we should be aware of our past and how ancient India contributed to world’s intellectual, social and cultural heritage. Undoubtedly, India’s past is a rich treasure house of extraordinary accomplishments in fields as diverse as astronomy, medicine, metallurgy, mathematics, literature, fine arts and performing arts. Eminent thinkers like Mark Twain and Max Mueller give us an outsider’s view of ancient Indian thought. Mark Twain said and I quote: “India is the cradle of human race, the birth place of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.” As Max Mueller has noted, ours was a land “most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty – in some parts, a very paradise on earth.”
There are clearly impressive landmarks in the economic history of our country signifying an expansive growth of trade and economy. According to one estimate India in the 17th century contributed over a quarter of the global economic output.
We have a long history of governance and administrative structures adopting a collective decision making approach as seen in ‘Sabha’, the assembly of all and in ‘Samiti’, the meeting of the informed.
It is easy to romanticize and glamorize the past and fall into the temptation of resting on past laurels. That’s not how I see history.
History, to me, is a springboard, an inspirational tale, a motivational call to action.
It is a reminder of the heights of creative endeavour reached by our predecessors, the enormous fund of social capital that each one of us has inherited.
To ignore our strengths accumulated over centuries is unwise.
At the same time, we cannot shape our future by merely living in the past.
That’s the reason why I had called my reflections on one year in office as ‘Moving on, moving forward’.
To shape a bright future, we need to shun passivity.
Proactive, positivity is essential.
As our Vedic sages had exhorted, “chairaiveti” we must keep moving. We must however remember to move with a sense of direction.
This is what I wanted to convey through my speeches to the farmers, the students and the scientists and all our citizens I have interacted with.
We need to change with the changing times.
We need to adapt to the altered context.
We must aim for excellence and be the pace setters.
We must stretch our arms towards perfection, as Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore had exhorted us.
Dear brothers and sisters!
In addition to ancient history it is equally important, in my view, to study our recent past especially the freedom struggle and the making of our Constitution. This will give us new insights, a new surge of energy to find solutions to current day problems. It will also fill us with a renewed, strengthened bond with the people of our land. This is what I have been emphasizing in my conversations.
For me, nationalism is all about this bond with the people who share a common past, a common present and a common future. This commonality should promote camaraderie. This implies transcending the limitations of caste, creed, region and religion and forging the widest possible bonding in the form of a larger identity. It is all about asserting that ‘I am Indian first’. Nationalism is an overarching umbrella under which all of our immediate identities are subsumed to form a larger collective. Unfortunately, certain misinformed individuals and organizations are fomenting trouble, and creating divisions where none existed before. In a country that has shown the power of peaceful co-existence and non-violence to the world, such acts of bigotry and narrow sectarianism should be strongly condemned.
While my engagement with farmers, students and scientists across all the states in the country filled me with tremendous optimism about the future of the country, there are moments when I feel a little unhappy at the way we are conducting ourselves. Probably, this is because of my “creative dissatisfaction” and a certain irresistible urge to remedy the situation.
All of you would have watched with dismay the way the Budget session of Rajya Sabha has just concluded. The President of India, the highest constitutional functionary of our country and in whose name every decision is taken and implemented addressed members of both the Houses of Parliament at the start of the session. It is customary and a constitutional propriety that each chamber of Parliament adopts a Motion of Thanks for such an address. But in Rajya Sabha, for over a week no concern was shown to do so even though I appealed several times. What could have been a platform for discussing all the burning issues, became a platform of confrontation and disruptions. Finally, on the last day of the session, the Motion was adopted without any debate. A precious opportunity for debate on public issues was lost.
In the interim Budget, the government has proposed direct income benefit to over 12 crore small and marginal farmers reeling under distress. While there is a huge political slugfest over the farm sector distress, the parties and the Members of the Upper House did not deem it fit to discuss and analyse the same and bring fresh ideas to the table.
It is very unfortunate that our legislatures, instead of becoming effective forums of debate, are being reduced to ‘disruptive platforms’. This growing tendency, in my view, is a clear negation of the vision of our Constitutional makers. In a way, it is an affront to the spirit of the Constitution of India. It is apathy towards the hopes and aspirations of the people. It is utter disregard for people’s mandate. It is a betrayal of the people’s faith in these pillars of democracy.
Dr. Ambedkar, had with great foresight, warned us almost 70 years ago when he said: “however good a Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it, happen to be a bad lot. However bad a Constitution may be, it may turn out to be good if those who are called to work it, happen to be a good lot.”
It is a matter of concern that political discourse is reaching a new low in recent years. We should reverse this trend at the earliest.
People in public life should understand that they are only rivals, not enemies.
I have often been quoting Pranab da’s mantra of ‘Discuss, Debate and Decide but not Disturb’. It is unfortunate that when I meet the leaders everyday in the morning during the session, some leaders tell me “Sir, today the House cannot function normally because an issue has cropped up and we have instructions from the leaders.” It is, indeed, a sad commentary on our system if the political leadership takes this kind of approach.
I would like to share that the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad has often shared his concern with me about the state of affairs but perhaps there are so many cross currents that are at work. Ultimately, we all seem to be passive spectators or tacit contributors to this theatre of declining standards.
Against the backdrop of worrisome functioning of our Parliament and State legislatures, this disruptive, dysfunctional tendency needs to be made an election issue.
People need to monitor the functioning of the legislatures and also the conduct of various parties and the elected representatives.
People elect their representatives hoping that they would articulate their hopes and aspirations in the legislatures and do the needful by way of making laws and raising issues of public importance so as to make a difference to their lives. Dysfunctional legislatures strengthen the demand for ‘recall of legislators’. I am afraid we are close to this stage if things do not change.
Dear brothers and sisters!
An effective democracy thrives on the strength of it’s institutions. As I look at our constitutional framework and federal arrangement, I find that clear boundaries have been defined besides stipulating functional balance and harmony among various institutions. Any shortsighted attempt to cross the line by any institution ends up harming this spirit of unity and balance.
Our judiciary has an important role in making the future of our nation. It is a key institution for ensuring the rule of law through timely dispensation of justice. It is disturbing to note the heavy pendency of cases and the fact that 67% of prisoners are under-trials. The formidable challenges to socio-economic development of our country need to be overcome with the judiciary playing a constructive role. We must not allow any erosion of public trust in this institution. The law enforcement and justice dispensation must not only be swift, objective and fair but must appear to be so in public view.
Media is an important institution of an effective democracy. It should function as a Medium of Empowerment for Development through Informed Actions. This is the title of one of the chapters in this book. My suggestion to the media is to correlate the text with the context for informed communication to the readers and viewers.
Media should expose wrong doers, those who are violating the sanctity of parliamentary procedures and decorum. They need to be critical of such a behavior rather than highlight disruptive actions.
The need of the hour is to enhance the functioning of various leading institutions like the Legislature, the Judiciary and the Executive as per the spirit of our Constitution. We need to evolve a new normal in their functioning and ensure a new institutional equilibrium to serve the people of this country.
The world order is passing through unprecedented, rapid changes in unforeseen directions, posing challenges to our present and future.
Young aspirational India is yearning for a transformation.
Transformation in governance, transformation in the mindset, transformation in the way we learn, work and live.
Ultimately, what each Indian is looking for is to shape our nation into a country that harnesses the innate potential of each individual, to make our country an economically vibrant hub and a country that ensures a high quality of life to all its citizens. The prospects of such a future are bright. The key challenge lies in handling our present to lay strong foundations for such a future. We have no option but to transform the “Swarajya” we have achieved into a “Surajya” for all.
We are likely to be the world’s fifth largest economy soon and possibly, the largest in due course. While faster economic growth has it’s own advantages, we need to ensure inclusive development. We need to make our growth more sustainable. I have repeatedly underscored in my speeches that there are favourable winds of change today. There is a sound institutional structure in place. The economic fundamentals are strong. There is a demographic dividend waiting to be realized. We have to only move from ideas to implementation, from rhetoric to action.
As I said at the start, my mission as articulated in this book is to Connect the India of the past with the present and look at the future possibilities through the eyes of our academic and scientific institutions, through our youth, women and farmers, through our entrepreneurs and industrialists. In short, I believe there are numerous architects of tomorrow’s India who just need a facilitative, responsive, encouraging State to unleash the forces of growth. Of particular interest to me is agriculture. I believe significant structural transformation is required in order to make agriculture more profitable and sustainable. I take inspiration from the consensus-building approach towards common concerns espoused by Vedic seers.
“Let us all gather in assembly and speak with one voice. Let our minds be of one accord. May our counsel be the same. Let the assembly consist of equals. Let our minds be alike and also our thoughts. Let our hopes and aspirations be the same and let our hearts beat in unison so that we may live in harmony and happiness.”
My effort, after I took over as the Vice President, has been to focus on issues that are crucial for India’s development. My extensive interactions with a wide cross section of population have convinced me that change is possible if we can get our act together.
Sisters and Brothers,
Let me now touch upon another important aspect of our democratic structure.
In a few months from now the country will go to polls. I have had a dream, a dream to transform the quality of our democracy. Free and fair elections have been the cornerstone of our democracy. But, what about the political process itself? I would like to see more men and women being elected as legislators and parliamentarians with a national outlook and having in them certain characteristics which I have usually described as the virtuous 4Cs – Character, Calibre, Capacity and Conduct. We, the people, have to ensure that the vicious 4Cs – Cash, Caste, Community and Criminality are no longer allowed to vitiate the political system. Only then can we proudly say that ours is not only the largest democracy but also one of the best in the world.
We need higher standards of accountability in public life. Political parties must evolve a code of conduct for their functionaries. The public at large has a right to know the contribution of their representatives to the development of the constituency and their conduct in the legislatures. They should demand a report card from the public representatives and make a critical assessment of their effectiveness. This, ideally, should be the decisive factor and yardstick at the time of voting in the elections.
To conclude, I need to place on record my appreciation to my Secretary Dr. I.V. Subba Rao and other officials in my secretariat for their diligence in putting together this compilation adequately capturing the vast canvas covered during one year.
I also compliment the Minister (I&B), Secretary, Information and Broadcasting and more importantly Director General Publications Division and her team for tirelessly working on this project for over 6 months.
I once again convey my gratitude to ‘Bharat Ratna’ Shri Pranab Mukherji for gracing this occasion and releasing this book.
Thank you all for your presence and patient hearing on this occasion.