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Pranab convenes conference to address 'aam aadmi' issues

February 08, 2013 23:52 IST

President Pranab Mukherjee will meet governors and ministers to get their feedback on matters affecting the common man, and make amends, reports Renu Mittal

The President has gone into active mode and seems to be worried about a number of issues facing the country, particularly in the context of the general elections coming up next year.

Pranab Mukherjee has convened a two-day conference of Governors on February 11 and 12 which would be attended by 30 Governors and Lt Governors, but that is not all. A number of ministers have been called for the two-day meet in Rashtrapati Bhawan. These ministers include those handling sensitive portfolios dealing with issues that affect the aam admi -- an area where the government has been taking a beating for some time.

Those who have been invited include are prime minister, Unions ministers for defence, finance, agriculture, home, human resource development, urban development, water resources, deputy chairman planning commission, and ministers of state with independent charge for consumer affairs, food and public distribution along with drinking water and sanitation. The chairman of the Unique Identification Number (UIDAI) too has been called.

The list of ministers invited clearly identifies the issues which the President is planning to focus on during the two days of discussions. The Governors are expected to give their feedback to the President and ministers.

It is for the concerned ministries to take up the suggestions and implement them and wherever required put correctives in place. Most of the governors are senior Congress leaders or former security and army officials.

An interesting omission to the list of invited ministers is Jairam Ramesh who is incharge of rural development, a key portfolio in the Congress scheme of things. Pranab Mukherjee has never invited Jairam Ramesh for a meeting since he took over as the President of India.

At his meeting with the Governors on February 5, the President had also hosted vice chancellors of central universities where he expressed concern over the state of education in the country. He directed the concerned persons to take steps to fill up vacancies and take initiatives to improve the system.

It was decided to recruit short-term and young faculty from India and abroad at various levels to relax the required experience criteria in case of outstanding scholars. It was also decided to set up an independent council for central universities to improve the quality of education and faculty to bring them on par with the top universities of the world.

It was the first exercise of its kind where 40 vice chancellors from central universities were invited with daylong discussion in the presence of the prime minister, the HRD minister and the UGC chairman on how to improve the content and quality of education. It was decided that vacancies should be filled up in six months and the vacancies of the President’s nominees in three months.

A number of initiatives were taken including how to integrate the university to the community and how the university can play a pivotal role in promoting art, culture, education, community welfare, identifying outstanding teachers, students, scholars, having an award system to recognise their talent with the President promising that as the visitor for the universities he would be available both for interaction at a personal level as well as through video conferencing.

Pranab Mukherjee, having settled in at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, has become ultra-active with hyper-schedules. His road map appears to be clear: ensure there is improvement in quality at various levels, particularly the critical areas which affect the common man.

Renu Mittal New Delhi