Imphal: President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said the North Eastern states did not get the benefit of the socio-economic transformation despite welfare measures initiated by the Centre and suggested only a collective effort can bring about a change in the region.
Mukherjee, who arrived here on a two-day visit amid a boycott call given by some insurgent groups demanding a "sovereign" Manipur, said development could not take place unless all contribute in this effort.
"I know many parts of the North Eastern region do not get the benefit of socio-economic transformation which began from the first five-year plan of 1951 onwards.
"But we shall have to make it happen and for that what is needed is the collective efforts, a collective contribution", he said participating in the diamond jubilee of Adimjati Shiksha Ashram devoted to the development of tribal community of the state.
He said the government is going to consider and pass the Right to Food (Bill) as he noted that there has been a major shift in the development paradigm today which is more focussed towards empowerment of people through entitlement.
‘In 1950, we committed to the people to provide universal education. It took time but we were able to provide it by making a constitutional guarantee of Right to Education by passing law in Parliament and by ensuring that Indian people get the right to education,’ he said.
On his way to the Ashram from the airport in inclement weather, Mukherjee was greeted with a thin crowd lining the road and closed shops apparently because of the bandh call.
Recalling the contribution of Manipuri people in the country’s freedom struggle, the President said freedom in the minds in this region was never extinguished.
Mukherjee said Manipur was the first place to be liberated from British power by Subhash Chandra Bose-led contingent.
‘Therefore, the people of Manipur and their contribution to Indian composite culture is unique,’ he said.
The President said the setting up of the Ashram underlined the guiding spirit in country`s freedom movement to bring about socio-economic emancipation for the deprived and needy people.
The initiative of the Ashram the foundation of which was laid by first President Rajendra Prasad-- for the uplift of the poor tribal children was started due to the efforts of Deshbandhu Adhikari who was a scholar and social worker from Uttar Pradesh, he said.
He said the Ashram has a tradition of promoting the wellbeing of all sections of the society and the noble cause of working for the progress of the disadvantaged has engaged the minds of the social workers long back.
Apart from its selfless dedication to uplift of the underprivileged and the deprived, he said the Ashram has been a pioneer of technical education in Manipur.
"It has been instrumental in implementing a scheme of 1976 for Hindi training by deputing tribal childeren to the Hindi Vidya Pith in Bihar.
"I am told that 150 students who have undertaken this programme were appointed in government schools. This is a laudable effort towards national intergration and should inspire us all," he said.
Mukherjee will leave for Sikkim tomorrow morning where he will lay the foundation stone of Sikkim University in Yangang and inaugurate the Siddheswara Char Dham in Solophok in Namchi.