New Delhi: Terming corruption a cancer affecting the nation, President Pratibha Patil Sunday said there cannot be just one panacea to deal with the menace, and a system of transparency and accountability needs to be put in place at various levels.
"Corruption is a cancer affecting the nation`s political, economic, cultural and social life. It is necessary to eliminate it," said Patil in her address to the nation on the eve of the 65th Independence Day.
Though she did not refer to the ongoing debate on the need for a strong Lokpal, the President said: "There cannot be just one panacea or remedy to deal with corruption, but a system of transparency and accountability should be put in place at various levels and effectively enforced."
The president also said that we should not forget that we have to preserve democracy and uphold healthy conventions of parliamentary procedures.
The President said that pursuing the anti-corruption agenda would require preventive and punitive measures and a rational approach, besides strong institutions and good governance.
She asked the government, parliament, the judiciary and society at large to ponder over corruption and find ways to handle it.
The President suggested electoral reforms, including state funding of elections and debarring criminals from participating in elections, to cleanse the system.
She said the government was committed to providing common people opportunities to progress and to eradicating poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy.
The country has performed well economically with a growth rate of 8.6 percent last year and the government was pursuing an inclusive growth agenda, the President said.
Stressing that the growing gross domestic product (GDP) along with the welfare of the people were the twin pillars of a progressive nation, Patil said that anti-poverty programmes, social welfare schemes and a commitment to ensure food security formed the core of the government`s inclusive growth agenda.
The President called for greater use of technology in the agriculture sector to ensure better productivity and increased focus on issues like labour shortage.
She said that the government may need to examine whether the existing rural employment programmes could be utilised for agricultural land of farmers, whether small holders or otherwise, in rain-fed areas.
She stressed upon the augmentation of warehousing and cold storage facilities for agricultural produce in the country. "Warehousing will make food distribution not only easier and quicker, but it would be a low cost option that also cuts on wastage during transportation," she said.
Patil called on the corporate sector as well as small and medium enterprises to seriously engage with agriculturists, particularly in rain-fed areas, to avail of the many opportunities of working together for mutual benefit.
"Let the public sector entities take the lead in this regard. The integration of agriculture with the other sectors of the economy would not only be useful for agriculture, but would generate positive impulses in other sectors as well," the President added.
In the wake of fears about a possible global economic slowdown, she said that the Indian economy had fundamental strength and resilience and its large domestic market could help it maintain steady growth.
"Uncertainty is again confronting the world economy, and would need to be tackled through co-ordinated global action, as also by suitable precautionary measures in our country," said the President.
The President also stressed that the issue of price rise had to be tactically dealt with. She said that rising prices affected families, especially those living below the poverty line.
Observing that the July 13, 2011, blasts in Mumbai were a grim reminder that terrorism is posing a threat to global peace, the President asked the country to be ever-vigilant to fight the menace.
Expressing grief over the country`s declining sex ratio, she said it reflected the bias against the girl child in Indian society and called for fighting such social prejudices.
"Our census sadly shows that there has been a decline in the gender ratio in the 0 to 6 age group. It has touched a low level of 914 girls as compared to 1,000 boys. It reflects the continuing preference of boys in our society and the bias against the girl child," Patil said.
"We have to work to eradicate the practices of dowry, child marriage and female foeticide which we are continuing to battle even in the 21st century," she said.