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SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA ON THE OCCASION OF THE 85TH BIRTHDAY OF DR. BALRAM JAKHAR, GOVERNOR OF MADHYA PRADESH, IN PARLIAMENT HOUSE

New Delhi, 7th September, 2007


Speech

Hon'ble Prime Minister,

Hon'ble Speaker of Lok Sabha,

Shrimati Sonia Gandhi ji, Chairman UPA

Shri Inder Kumar Gujral ji,

Dr. Balram Jakhar ji

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a matter of great pleasure to be present at this function organized to felicitate D. Balram Jakhar on his 85th Birthday and to release the Abhinandan Granth, titled "Kalpa Vriksha". Dr. Jakhar is a towering personality, known to be a man of principles and as an outstanding leader, whose contribution to Parliament and commitment to the welfare of the farming community in particular are well known.

Dr. Balram Jakhar began his distinguished legislative career in 1972, when he was elected to the Punjab Legislative Assembly and appointed the Deputy Minister for Cooperation, Irrigation and Power. He was re-elected in 1977 to the Assembly and became the Leader of the Opposition. In these capacities, he proved himself to be an outstanding leader and an able administrator.

In 1980, Dr. Jakhar entered the Lok Sabha from the Ferozepur constituency, and had the unique distinction of being elected as Speaker of the Lok Sabha in his very first term as a Member of Parliament. It was an onerous task and a great responsibility, full of challenges. With his characteristic down-to-earth approach, he took on this challenge and conducted the proceedings of the House with great dignity and impartiality, earning the support and goodwill of Parliamentarians, across party lines. During times of heated debate he sought to calm tempers and to change a confrontational debate into a discussion during which varied points of view were shared, thus enriching understanding of issues. Therefore, on his re-election to Parliament in 1985 from Sikar constituency, he was unanimously elected as Speaker of the Lok Sabha for the second time, a testimony to the enormous confidence that Members had on his ability to preside over the business of the House.

Dr. Jakhar's diplomacy was not limited only to the House. It was during his tenure that the Parliament of India developed strong ties of cooperation with other national Parliaments and also with international parliamentary bodies, including the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the International Parliamentary Union. This enhanced the profile of the Indian Parliament and the country as a whole in the global arena.

During his entire life, Dr. Jakhar has been a tireless champion of farmers and their causes. Himself a farmer, he introduced several innovative ideas for the development of orchards and for improved farming. As Agriculture Minister, Dr. Jakhar worked relentlessly to improve the lot of the rural areas. He has always maintained that an Economic Policy cannot be complete without an Agricultural Policy. This is a sound economic inter-linkage. In our country more than 70 percent of the population resides in rural areas and, therefore, sustained development of our country requires growth in the rural sector. Farmers need to be provided better and easier access to credit and marketing facilities. The marvels of scientific knowledge and biotechnology should be used to improve agricultural productivity. Agro-based industries, including food-processing units, should to be installed in rural areas and encouraged to develop linkages with farmers. Improved education and health amenities should be made available to our rural population. A multi-dimensional approach to agriculture is thus essential for a socially inclusive and economically sustainable growth of India. I am confident that Dr. Jakhar as the head of the farmers organization, the Bharat Krishak Samaj, would be a strong votary of a policy designed to give the agricultural sector a boost.

Dr. Balram Jakhar has maintained close association with organizations that commemorate our freedom struggle and is the Chairman of the Managing Committee of the Jalianwala Bagh Memorial Trust. Leaders who value the sacrifices that were made to gain our independence, understand that the highest ideals of our freedom fighters and those of our founding fathers have to be upheld, as we go forward with the task of building India.

In his life, Dr. Jakhar has demonstrated firm commitment to serve the country with dedication and devotion and has set high standards of service. In whatever capacity that Dr. Balram Jakhar has worked, whether as Speaker of the Lok Sabha, as the Union Agriculture Minister and today, as the Governor of Madhya Pradesh, he has brought honour and prestige to each position.

I conclude by wishing Dr. Jakhar the best of health and many more years of valuable service to the nation.

Thank you.


JAI HIND !






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