INAUGURAL ADDRESS AT THE 200TH SESSION OF THE RAJYA SABHA
11-12-2003 : New Delhi
"When guns are silent, Flowers blossom on the earth Fragrance engulfs good souls Who created beautiful silence?"
Honourable members, I am really fortunate to have worked with you on many occasions and also to share my views three times in the Parliament during the last 16 months.
Particularly, I recall the breakfast meetings I had with the Members of Parliament from all the States and Union Territories in the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Through you, I could directly be in touch with the citizens of our nation and could feel their aspirations. We exchanged our views to put the nation ahead and to make India become a full member in the G8 group of countries - which is a great mission of transforming our nation into a developed country.
When the Rajya Sabha is celebrating its 200th session, what can be a better mission for the peoples' representatives of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha than to combat the poverty of 260 million people out of one billion and lead them to prosperity and bring a smile in their face? Can we do that? Will "the nation smile?" .
A Day's Experience
When I was preparing for this very important address, this thought came to my mind. I got an answer from the events that took place on this Tuesday, 9th December 2003. Let me share them with you.
Tuesday morning, I went to Vigyan Bhavan to address an international conference on Water Management. As you all know water is the essence of life. Water brings prosperity. Internationally out of 6 billion people, today only 2 billion get adequate water. As most of the nations are busy with their national and international problems such as wars, terrorism etc., the potential threat of water shortage in the coming years is not fully realized by them. Since most of the rivers are flowing through many nations, they could generate international disputes. We discussed two solutions with the international community on India's possible plan of action: one is the interlinking of rivers which you are fully aware of, and the other, desalination of sea water using solar energy; a new thought especially since we are blessed with seas on all three sides of our country and also possess adequate relevant technologies. International community has fully acknowledged this as the right solution not only for India but also for the global community.
Also a very interesting event happened at the same venue. Suddenly about 200 children made me to sit with them and interact for 20 minutes. During the interaction, I asked the children what they would like to do after their 10+2 study. Many said, they want to become engineers, doctors, fashion designers, lawyers etc., Then surprisingly I found, in that gathering one boy and one girl lifted their hands simultaneously to tell me that they want to become political leaders. I asked them why they want to become political leaders? You will be happy to know the type of answer I got. The boy said, as a political leader I can give a vision to go to different planets and bring wealth to the country. There is nothing wrong in dreaming. But we have to work for it. The girl student said, she wants to become a political leader, to clean up the whole political system, particularly of corruption. One point I want to share with you, first time during my interaction with children, I could see the ambition of our children to become political leaders even though they realize that this is the most challenging task calling for continuous success, hard work and the courage to defeat the defeatist tendencies.
When my mind was hovering continuously on the children's dream and the future water problem, two pleasant things happened on the same evening. One artist, Prof.S V Ramarao, from south who had settled down in America and is well known particularly for modern paintings, met me. He narrated his life-time experience. The artist went to Europe, and he studied European paintings. He made up his mind that he wanted to excel in the European modern paintings. He worked continuously for two years and generated a series of paintings. He brought Picasso and Glandstine in his paintings. He created a newer set of western paintings with the Indian touch of color. Every one who had seen this was astonished and never failed to admire his creativity. Today he is one of the recognized artists in the world and a great painter. This experience demonstrates the creativity and the determination of Indian mind to excel in whatever they do and wherever they are. There are many such good examples. In India, during the first vision of independence, many political leaders, scientists, industrialists, educationalists emerged to prove that they were an order better then those who ruled us. I am sure that the second vision of developed India will generate such enlightened citizens.
On the same evening, I met one of the CEOs of an Industry. When we were discussing various aspects of ascending performance of Indian industries, he informed me, that some Indian industries recently had acquired certain manufacturing firms, in the industrially developed countries and are transforming them into true multinational companies.
It was a happy day for me as these events established that our people have started becoming confident, competitive, entrepreneurial and creative. These are the foundations for the developed country. From the young students with a vision and dream in their eyes, the artist who made it big outside India to the Indian Multinational, they are symbols of the up beat mood in which our country is currently in - a mood which will form the foundation of all our dreams to become a developed nation.
Many newer missions will come for discussion in Rajya Sabha with the objective of transforming India into a developed nation within the next two decades. I would like to discuss some of the issues.
Expanding roles of the Rajya Sabha
Over the last 50 years the Rajya Sabha had played a critical role in addressing some of the major societal issues concerning relationships between some sections of the society, especially judiciary, women welfare, healthcare, property, behavior etc. These are very well articulated in many of the well treasured publications of the Rajya Sabha and have had salutary effects on our post independence society.
Field of attention:
With the passage of time, the compelling needs of the nation and the geo-political environment have also changed. The emphasis today has shifted towards solving issues in economic development, geo-politics, world trade, national security, energy and water security, growth of agriculture, manufacturing and services in the backdrop of the emerging global village and advances in science and technologies that follow the law of accelerating returns.
The role of the UN as envisioned by the founding fathers was that of a true representative of every nation of the world. The end of the cold war has witnessed the inequitable influence of a few powerful nations on the UN. The need to evolve to a multi-polar and equitable world order is of paramount importance. UN has to be transformed into a powerful international organization with the voice heard from small or big nations, rich or poor nations. These issues are intricately intertwined with the national development. There are also problems of global violence taking many forms, including terrorism and intolerance between individuals and groups.
Freedom to Live
One of the important characteristics of democracy is tolerance for criticism. Analysis of criticism leads to understanding of truth. Normally only criticism brings reality. Based on my visits to many parts of the country and exposure to the field problems, I find that there is a need for faster economic development in certain States. If committed people have to work selflessly, we have to ensure their safety without which their families and brethren will not allow them nor want them to work in such an uncertain environment. Freedom to move, freedom to think and freedom to express are ingrained in the freedom to live; it is also enshrined in our constitution. We cannot have inter-state barriers or inter-regional curbs that would snap the thread of unity. All of us will have to work together to create a conducive atmosphere for unhindered progress of developmental activities.
Creating a standardized quality education with value system across the population or even creating a corruption free society are the problems that are challenging enough to demand out of the box unusual solutions. A fair and equitable access to judicial systems that are sensitive to changes in technology and society, pollution free and energy efficient urban transport systems that are scalable nation-wide are also equally challenging problems that need immediate attention. Rajya Sabha can be an architect leading to providing practical solutions during the debate. Such decisions will be the typical bricks that would be necessary to build the edifice of developed nation by 2020.
Rajya Sabha next two decades
The major problems and issues of the 21st Century are emerging as highly inter-ministry, inter-departmental, inter-state matters. The Ministries, Departments and States should be able to work cohesively in a borderless way for each mission. This is much the same way that today's Internet, Intranet and Extranet all work in a coalition of convenience to create Virtual Organizations depending on the problem to be solved. In addition, since private investors and entrepreneurs will participate, we need to involve them as partners. The institutions of the State should aim to become partners of entrepreneurs and friends of citizens. Coherence and congruence in national and State development policies in the 21st century can come about only by a well-debated long-term vision for the nation as a whole, implemented efficiently and effectively by multiple inter-institutional and inter-disciplinary missions, programmes and projects. Most of them for e.g. the national river water mission, Providing Urban Amenities and Rural Areas (PURA) and other suggested five areas are highly complex, technically and managerially; and they involve complex relations between Centre and States, private entities, citizens and indeed with other nations as well.
The System of Committees to implement Vision - Developed India 2020 - jointly with the Lok Sabha - thus needs to expand for new roles and responsibilities and develop capabilities to progress inter-ministry and inter-state tasks, focused to costs, speed and timeliness, efficiency and benefits of specific missions.
It is imperative to provide intensive and regular exposure to our esteemed Rajya Sabha members who are coming from various walks of life on the development of Political vision, Political system management and the art of becoming role models for the youth of the nation. This exposure can be mutually beneficial- the Programme Management would benefit from the rich and varied experience of the Members of the Rajya Sabha and the Honorable members would also get sensitized to the needs and priorities of the Nation. This house can consider and create a framework for providing this unique knowledge base required for managing the largest democracy in the world with the sole focus of development.
Missions for Vision 2020
Vision 2020 has been generally accepted by the nation, now the time has come to transform the vision to mission. Vision 2020 implementation needs to be viewed as set of joint centre-state-industry-academy people missions. These include Socio-economic missions such as Interlinking of Rivers, Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas (PURA), Healthcare, Electrical power. Techno economic missions such as large scale use of solar and other Non-conventional Energy Sources and Socio-technical missions such as Low Intensity Conflict Management and Information Security.
For these missions, the nodal agency for individual missions may have to be carefully planned without following the current methods of departmental compartmentalization. The empowered management structure, innovative systems of execution, public accountability etc. would need to be conceptualized, debated upon, designed and implemented.
The national mission demands the large inter-departmental budgetary provisions. Let me discuss with you a case study. Our parliamentarians and legislatures are given local area development scheme fund which in a plan period amounts to over Rs. 15,000 crores. My careful study and analysis indicate that in India we have adequate resources. We suffer from a system of implementation, which requires to be made economically efficient. Benefits will then reach the people. For example, I suggest the honourable members should become facilitators for executing the PURA projects through these funds in their regions, which will bring visible development changes in their constituencies and meet the aspirations of the people. All these will also lead to greater employment generation and more efficient and effective governance, not necessarily in the traditional sense of job but often as self-employed skilled persons.
I would suggest that Honorable members become the ambassadors for these missions and make the one billion people participate in the noble task of "Developed India Movement."
Ours is a vast country - a sub continent. As it happens with any such large country, there are multiplicities of everything, the language, religion or even ethnicities. Even natural resources are strewn across the country far and wide. If one area is rich in a particular resource, another is in another and yet another is in still another. If one area is excellent for agriculture, another is excellent for information technology, another in manufacturing and so on. All these diversities not withstanding, we Indians all along have been genuinely proud of our innate unity, our heritage and our civilization. In fact that has been the singular reason for our having been able to hold ourselves together as a proud nation with the glorious past looking forward to a still more glorious future of developed India by 2020: a happy, prosperous and safe India.
Dear Honourable members, in this beautiful environment of the celebration of 200th session of Rajya Sabha we have so far discussed the vision of Rajya Sabha of the future in relation to an evolution of prosperous India. Billion people of various walks of life have to sweat to create the land of enlightened citizens. Now I hear a divine hymn, let me share with you.
"Where there is righteousness in the heart,
There is beauty in the character.
Where there is beauty in the character,
There is harmony in the home.
Where there is harmony in the home,
There is an order in the nation.
Where there is an order in the nation,
There is peace in the world."
At this 200th Session of the Rajya Sabha, I am sure that this hallowed institution will rise to the occasion, and take the historic step to lead India to be a developed nation.
I wish you all success. God bless you.