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'Govt will preserve, protect, promote secular values'
June 07, 2004 11:11 IST
Last Updated: June 07, 2004 13:52 IST
President A P J Abdul Kalam on Monday said that the Congress-led government at the Centre is committed to preserving, protecting and promoting secular values and enforcing the law without fear or favour to deal with all obscurantist and fundamentalist elements that seek to disturb social amity and peace.
"It is a matter of serious concern that forces of communalism have been able to vitiate the atmosphere in the country leading to outbreak of riots, the most gruesome face of which was witnessed recently in Gujarat. My government is determined to combat such forces," he told a joint session of Parliament, the first after the elections to the 14th Lok Sabha.
The President said the first general election of this millennium reflects the firm conviction of the people in the democratic process of change.
"The verdict is for establishing the rule of law and repairing our secular fabric. This government is committed to providing the right ambience for fulfilling the aspirations implicit in the people's mandate," he said.
"The outcome of these elections is indicative of people's yearning for inclusiveness - economic, social and cultural - and their rejection of the forces of divisiveness and intolerance.
The President said the Common Minimum Programme of the United Progressive Alliance, supported by the Left and other like-minded parties, would form the foundation for collective maximum performance.
The CMP, he said, was indicative of the broad thrust of the priorities of the government. It would be the sincere effort of the government to implement the programme during the next five years.
"However, the precise content and phasing of the programmes will depend on both the availability of resources and the pace of improvement of the absorptive capacity of various sectors. Our effort will be to move forward on the twin roads of efficiency and equity while maintaining a high degree of fiscal and financial discipline.
"My government will need to devise imaginative measures to ensure that our macro-economic policies balance appropriately the concerns for rapid growth, stability and social equity," Kalam said.
Interestingly, the President made only a passing mention of the demand for a separate state of Telangana saying the government will consider the demand.
The government is sensitive to the issue of affirmative action, including reservations in the private sector, and committed to faster socio-economic and educational development of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
It will initiate a dialogue with political parties, industry and other bodies on how best the private sector can fulfil the aspirations of the SCs and STs.
Reservation quotas in government, including those relating to promotions, will be fulfilled in a time-bound manner, he said adding appropriate legislation will be enacted to codify all policies on reservations.
The government will launch a comprehensive national programme for minor irrigation of lands owned by people belonging to SCs and STs. Landless families will be endowed with land through implementation of Land Ceiling and Redistribution legislation. "No reversal of ceiling legislation will be permitted," he said.
The government will respect the letter and spirit of Article 370 of the Constitution that accords special status to Jammu and Kashmir and dialogue with all groups in the State will be pursued on a sustained basis in consultation with the democratically elected state government. The State will be given assistance to rebuild its infrastructure quickly.
"The government is determined to tackle terrorism, militancy and insurgency in the Northeast as a matter of urgent national priority.
It will eliminate all delays that hamper modernisation of the armed forces and ensure that funds earmarked for this purpose are fully utilised.
"We are proud of our armed forces. They have risen to the occasion whenever called upon to defend the territorial integrity of our country and assist the civil authorities in maintaining law and order and organising relief and rescue measures," he said.
The welfare of ex-servicemen will get priority and they will be involved in crucial nation-building tasks.
On Ayodhya, the government will await the verdict of the courts but encourage negotiations between parties to the dispute for an amicable settlement, which, in turn, must receive legal sanction. The government is also committed to implementing the Protection of Places of Worship Act, 1992.
It would also examine the question of providing constitutional status to the Minorities Commission and will strive for recognition and promotion of Urdu language under Articles 345 and 347 of the Constitution.
External Link: President Kalam's speech
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