Prez stresses on reforms to strengthen governance

Underlining the need to stand up to the challenges to effective democracy in an evolving nation, Pratibha Patil pitched for electoral reforms.

Mumbai: Underlining the need to stand up to
the challenges to effective democracy in an evolving nation,
President Pratibha Patil on Tuesday pitched for electoral reforms
saying the country`s institutions should be rebuilt in
accordance with demands of the changing times.

"We need to deliberate and debate on ways to strengthen
governance, legislative system, as well as judicial system.
There is an urgent need for undertaking electoral reforms.”

"Alongside, there is also a need to reform our education
system. The governments, legislators, social activists and
media should come together to chart the future course of
action," the President said inaugurating platinum jubilee
celebration of the Maharashtra Legislature here.

Terming social harmony and tolerance as the bedrock of
Indian democracy, Patil said cultivating the knack of
understanding the other persons viewpoint is a must for a
democracy to be successful.

"It is not necessary to be in complete agreement, but we
should not be obstinate and think that I am right and the
other person is wrong. If we develop intolerance, we shut the
door on understanding. Everyone needs to know about this," she
said in her speech delivered in Marathi amidst huge round of
applause from dignitaries attending it.

Noting that socio-economic conditions in the country have
changed rapidly in the last two decades, Patil, who is on a
two-day visit to the state, said increasing industrialisation,
rise of money power, decline of value system, technological
innovations, information explosion have all brought forth new

"These challenges become magnified in a pluralistic
society like ours as sensitivities of various groups also need
to be taken care of," the President said.

Noting that Legislative assemblies reflect the views and
aspirations of the people, Patil said, "It is for the people`s
representatives to discharge their duties keeping in mind the
institutional and democratic norms. The world is changing fast
and the people`s representatives have to rise to the occasion.”

Patil, who was born in Nadgaon village of Jalgaon
District of the State, had entered Maharashtra Legislative
Assembly as a young member 50 years ago and later served as a
minister and the Leader of the Opposition

"Democracy is not a mere instrument of governance. We
need to stand up to the challenges being posed to effective
democracy and also realize that along with rights come
responsibilities," she said during the function.

Patil gave an example of her address to the Chhattisgarh
Legislative Assembly where both the ruling party and the
opposition unanimously decided "that no member would be
allowed to enter the Well of the House, and if a member did
so, he would be automatically suspended".

"Our election process is elaborate, yet we have changed
governments from time to time at the Centre as well as in
states in a disciplined manner," Patil said.

"The world witnessed the economic recession in 2008, which
affected most of the developed nations. Its impact was
far less in India, and the turnaround was fantastic and we are
back to 8 per cent growth. India has the distinction of
showing to the world that faster economic growth is possible
even under democratic regimes," she said.

Social harmony and tolerance have been the bedrock of
Indian democracy, the President said.

"Despite several challenges, our belief in democracy has
not been shaken. We continue to proudly display our faith in
unity in diversity," she said.

"As an evolving nation, we have taken steps to strengthen
our democratic institutions. Through the 73rd and 74th
amendments to the Constitution we have given powers to the
Panchayati Raj institutions and local self government bodies.”

Speaking of her deep and long standing relationship with
Maharashtra Legislature, the President recalled her stint as a
member of the House and expressed her gratitude to the then
senior colleagues of hers for what she had learnt from them.


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