The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee opened the 46th Conference of Governors at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi today (February 11, 2015). The Conference is being attended by Twenty-one Governors and two Lt. Governors.
Dignitaries participating in the Conference included the Prime Minister; Union Ministers of Home Affairs, External Affairs, Finance, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Tribal Affairs; Minister of State (I/C) of Ministry of Labour and Employment, Minister of State (I/C) of Development of North Eastern Region and Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog.
In his opening address at the Conference, the President said the Constitution of India is the guiding document that provides the framework for governance. Every Indian looks forward to the Constitution as the guarantor of her liberties, freedom and equality. Any deviation from the principles and provisions embodied in the Constitution would weaken the democratic fabric of the country and jeopardise the social, economic and political well-being of our citizens. The Governors and Lt. Governors have the primary responsibility to ensure that the affairs of the States and Union Territories are conducted strictly in accordance with the letter and spirit of this hallowed document. Prevalence of peace and communal harmony must be ensured.
The President said the development of North-East is a priority area. Much needs to be done for infrastructure development and to harness its tourism potential. Ethnic violence in Assam needs to be countered effectively, especially the sinister motives to drive a wedge between Bodo and non-Bodo sections. The genuine aspirations of the Bodo people in terms of development must be addressed expeditiously. Under no circumstances can the spread of ethnic hatred be tolerated.
The President said India, as a nation, follows the policy of maintaining peaceful relations with all countries. All disputes, relating to our border areas or otherwise, should be resolved through peaceful means.
India is projected to have the largest workforce in the world by 2025, with a surplus of 47 million workers against a shortage of 56.5 million skilled workers in the world. This demographic dividend is a double-edged sword. If their huge potential is tapped, they could become a powerful engine for growth. On the other hand, if we fail to do so, it could create social tension. The youth could become creators, innovators, builders and leaders of the future. But they can transform the future only with proper education. We must capitalize our advantage and enhance the employability of our youth through skilling, re-skilling and up-skilling.
The President said skill development is also important for the success of the Make-in-India campaign aimed at facilitating investment, fostering innovation and making India a world-class manufacturing hub. He expressed hope that the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship will evolve an appropriate skill development framework, remove the demand-supply disconnect for skilled manpower, promote Public-Private Partnerships and expand youth entrepreneurship education. He requested Governors and Lt. Governors to use every opportunity to promote these initiatives as well as to play a persuasive role in the implementation of Jan Dhan Yojana.
Pointing out that over sixty percent of rural population do not have access to or use sanitation facilities, the President said we must reverse this position by addressing problem areas like affordability and mindset through innovative solutions. To deliver benefits effectively, the States and Union Territories should establish suitable administrative mechanisms to take Swachh Bharat Mission down to every village or ward. The Governors and Lt. Governors must use their persuasive skills and contribute to the achievement of this laudable objective.
Speaking on issues relating to Fifth Schedule of the Constitution, the President called upon Governors/Lt. Governors to closely monitor development programmes in these Areas for effective targeting, with special focus on quality of education and health.
The President said Autonomous Councils / Autonomous District Councils (ADCs), set up under the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution in Assam Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura, enjoy legislative, executive, financial and judicial powers. Governors of these States have a pivotal role to play in the administration of these Areas. Village and municipal councils must be set up and elections conducted for decentralization of power. He was happy to learn that the Government is proposing to amend the Sixth Schedule to strengthen the democratic process in these Areas. There is also need to devolve more developmental funds to these Areas. Laws prevailing in them also need to be codified.
The agenda for the two-day Conference of Governors includes (a) security- internal and external with special focus on border security in States sharing international frontiers (b) financial inclusion employment generation and employability- making skill development programmes effective (c) sanitation – achieving the goal of Swachh Bharat by 2019 on Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary and (d) issues relating to Fifth and Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India and development related issues of North Eastern Areas.