The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee opened the 45th Conference of Governors at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi today (February 13, 2014). The Conference is being attended by Twenty-six Governors and three Lt. Governors.
The agenda for the two-day Conference of Governors includes external and internal security environment, development issues in Scheduled Areas and North Eastern region, improving the quality of higher education and making disaster management more effective.
In his opening address at the Conference, the President said the Role of Governors is as a bridge between States and Centre. Governors have to ensure that State Governments act according to the Constitution while safeguarding the interests of the state. This is the unique responsibility of a Governor as they represent the Centre in the State and the State at the Centre. The President called upon Governors to remain alert and ensure that the coming general election to the 16th Lok Sabha is peaceful and conducive to free expression of the will of the people. The President said Governors must also ensure that the pluralistic character of our nation is not tarnished in any manner.
The President said during his address to the Governors and Lt. Governors through video-conferencing on July 25, 2013, a suggestion emerged that Groups of Governors should be constituted to deliberate upon issues such as the Role of Governors as a bridge between States and Centre; Areas under Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, North Eastern Council and related issues; Areas under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution, Role of Governors as Chancellors of educational institutions in improving the quality of higher education and Disaster Management. The groups of Governors have submitted reports with invaluable suggestions. These suggestions would serve as useful input for policy makers.
The President advised Governors to spend more time touring inside the states and closely monitor the implementation of Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 for benefits to reach the tribals of Scheduled Areas. Measures to strengthen Autonomous District Councils and extend certain features of the Panchayati Raj Institutions should be also considered. The President also called upon Governors to be pro-active as Chancellors in taking up the cause of higher education to bring excellence in State institutions.
Speaking on Disaster Management, the President said India, is among the most disaster-prone countries in the world. About 58.6 per cent of its landmass is prone to earthquakes; over 40 million hectares (12 per cent of land) is prone to floods; 68 per cent of the cultivable area is susceptible to drought; and, out of the 7,516 km coast line, about 5,700 km is prone to cyclones. The Disaster Management Act, 2005 has brought a change in the approach to disaster management, from a relief-centric to a holistic and integrated approach encompassing prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation. There is need for effective implementation of this Act.
Dignitaries participating in the Conference included the Vice President, the Prime Minister and Union Ministers of Defence, Finance, Home Affairs, Law and Justice, Tribal Affairs, Human Resource Development, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission and Minister of State (Independent Charge) in the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region.