Need to change mindset to ensure respect for women: President



New Delhi: There was a need to bring about changes in the mindset of society to ensure that women are given dignity and respect, President Pranab Mukherjee said here on Monday.

In his inaugural address during 44th conference of Governors at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the President urged them to work towards improving the security and welfare of women.

"There is a pressing need to bring about a change in the mindset of the society so that women are treated with dignity and respect," the President said.

Mukherjee noted that they were meeting in the shadow of the unfortunate incident of brutal rape and death of a young woman in Delhi which had shaken the collective conscience of the nation.

He said the Government had taken prompt action on the recommendations made by Justice Verma Committee and the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 was now ready for introduction in the Parliament in the Budget Session.

The President said there has been improvement in the country's internal security in 2012. However, he emphasised that "we must be unwavering in our efforts to thwart any attempt by anti-national forces conspiring to weaken our country's unity and integrity.

"Our commitment to strengthen the counter terrorism infrastructure must remain strong. He advised bordering states to keep extra vigil."

He also said that various programmes undertaken in border areas relating to infrastructure development need to be expedited to meet the growing challenges. The President said there is urgent need to strengthen the delivery systems of government programmes.

"A look at the states that have progressed faster as compared to others indicate that they have strong and well administered delivery systems," it was quoted as saying in a press release issued by Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Mukherjee also emphasised on the need of ground water management to ensure sufficient drinking water for the people.

"India has more than 18 per cent of world's population, but only 4 per cent of it is usable fresh water resources. India is already a water stressed nation and with further reduction in per capita availability of water, we will soon be a water scarce nation," he said.

It is estimated that by 2050, 17 per cent of the population will be under absolute water scarcity. "Managing groundwater is now a high priority," he said.

Mukherjee said that the country has to use the available water resources wisely, recycle waste water, increase water-use efficiency, recharge the groundwater and ensure efficient sanitation facilities to entire rural and urban population.

The President requested all the Governors to pay special attention to Nirmal Bharat Abhiyaan which has been launched by the government to ensure adequate sanitation facilities in all Gram Panchayats along with the provision of drinking water so that the villagers may reap the full benefit of improved health and better quality of life.

He said it should be the endeavour of Governors as Chancellors of universities to promote access to higher education with equity and excellence.

The President called on Governors to address faculty shortage, improve quality of research and inspire a culture of innovation, increase the use of technology for improving access to higher education as also to improve quality; and have better linkages with industry and make education more employment oriented.

Referring to the day-long discussions the President had with Vice-Chancellors of 40 central universities on February 5, he asked Governors to organise similar meetings with VC's of state universities.

The agenda for the two-day conference includes internal and external security and strengthening the delivery systems of government programmes among others. The conference will be addressed by Ministers tomorrow morning and by the Prime Minister and Vice President in afternoon.

PTI