Hon’ble Prime Minister, Hon’ble Union Ministers, Hon’ble Chief Ministers, Hon’ble Lieutenant Governors,
Hon’ble Vice Chairman and Members of NITI Aayog and other distinguished participants.
My speech has been circulated which deals with the agenda points and requirements for our State and the people. It speaks of the just demands of our State relating to Railways, Telecom, Banking, reduction in central fund, special focus States in view of frequent disasters, inclusion of some of our important languages in the 8th schedule etc. However, I would utilize this time to reflect on some of the issues/concerns that affect us as a country today and the NITI Aayog in dealing with them.
Elections are an essential feature of democracy. However, the Hallmark of a mature democracy is that once elected, Government are meant to work for people, beyond party line. Its high time that we as a country have serious introspection on whether we are able to do the same. Every crime is being politicised, every action of an elected Government is being seen from a political angle. This kind of an atmosphere is one of the biggest threats to the pace of development and peace in the country. Its high time the country gets out of this election mode and allows elected Governments to function.
National parties had promised women’s reservation both in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies. History will not forgive us if we renege on this commitment. This calls for a serious deliberation and taking it forward.
If the country has to really move forward, regions which are neglected and populations that are vulnerable have to be taken along. Committed and targeted action is needed for that. NITI Aayog has a major role to play in this. Specific sections that need focus like malnutrition, connectivity, sex ratio imbalances etc.
Lakhs of our young people appear for national level exams every year – the UPSC exam, NEET, JEE etc. A critical look is needed to re-evaluate the examination pattern for these prestigious and highly sought-after exams. Should not we have exams that focus on equality and attracting merit as opposed to exam patterns that are heavily dependent on highly paid coaching classes. This will truly eliminate merit in the long run and deny justice to lakhs of our children who live in rural areas and don’t have physical or economic access to coaching classes. NITI Aayog should look into this very serious issue or else in a few years’ there will be serious distortions.
NITI Aayog should develop into a repository of innovations drawn from the country and across the world and help replicate it. Futuristic technologies, new world economy, solutions for climate change, inclusive governance models are some areas that can be focused on. Many critical issues are being raised in the NITI Aayog deliberations and excellent suggestions are also being made. It would be appropriate for NITI Aayog to share an action taken report to everyone concerned. This will make our deliberations more meaningful and action oriented.
A number of proposals of different States relating to inclusion of tribal communities in the ST list have been pending from 1978 onwards. Many of them are subsets on phonetic variations of the names of existing ST communities. It is unjust to keep these pending for years without a decision.
Covid-19 was a challenge for the world and India showed with its unified response what is possible. European countries and the United States could not put up an unified front. The same unified response and inclusive approach should be adopted for all major challenges facing the country in the true spirit of cooperative federalism.
History will remember us on what our response has been on critical issues affecting our people and the country, raising above political considerations.