SPEECH BY HER EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA SHRIMATI PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE FAREWELL FUNCTION IN THE CENTRAL HALL IN PARLIAMENT HOUSE
New Delhi, 23rd July, 2012
My very warm greetings to everyone present here.
Today, I speak with a sense of nostalgia in this Hall that has been witness to important events in the Parliamentary history of our country. I have many memories of the time I spent here - as a Member of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha participating in debates and discussions; and as the Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha presiding over its proceedings. In that capacity, on the occasion of the oath taking ceremony of President R. Venkataraman in July, 1987, I read out in this Hall, the Hindi version of his inaugural speech. I did not know at that time that, twenty years later, I myself would be taking oath as the President. Over the past five years, I have had the honour as the President, to be a part of you and to address Parliament, on several occasions. I also had the opportunity to interact with Members of Parliament and with various delegations from different political parties and leaders. I express my deep and sincere thanks to you for the respect shown to me. I also thank the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha for the co-operation and support they have extended to me on every occasion.
I take this opportunity to convey my warmest congratulations to Shri Pranab Mukherjee, who has been elected to be the next President. He is well-known to the people of India, as also to Members of Parliament, for his work as a statesman and for his many achievements in over four decades of public life. A veteran Parliamentarian, he has a formidable reputation based on his insightful mind and sharp memory. He has vast experience of the functioning of Government as well. He brings to the office of the President, sagacity, experience and a deep understanding of national and international issues. I wish him the very best.
We, as an ancient civilization, have had a long history of democratic functioning. As a young nation, since our independence and the adoption of our Constitution itself, we have embraced democracy as a concept and praxis fundamental to our nationhood. Since the holding of the first elections in our country in 1952, we have assiduously walked the path of democracy. Through challenges, we have found opportunities and through determination, we have forged our destiny. We have demonstrated to the world, time and again, that a developing country of over a billion people, each aspiring for a better quality of life, can live harmoniously and move forward within the framework of an inclusive democracy. Therefore, it is with some sense of fulfillment that we can look at our achievements of the past over six decades. However, if we are to maintain progress much more needs to be achieved, and every constituent of our democracy, has to increasingly learn to work together, so that we can achieve our true potential.
Parliament symbolizes a national purpose as it is the repository of the will of the people. The people's faith in this democratic institution rests upon how effectively the elected representatives perform, and on how attentive they are to issues that impact public welfare. This is an enormous responsibility. Speaking from my experience, I believe that there exists in Parliament a commitment and willingness to work for meeting the aspirations of the people.
The prime focus of any legislature is bringing in laws required for the progress and good governance of the country, as well as the welfare of people. Varied political thinking is a part of any legislature, as it is a microcosm of the nation, and in a country as large and diverse as ours. It reflects the many shades of opinion and interests of the citizens. That shall always be the case. While this adds to the vibrancy of our democratic institutions, it at the same time, also poses a challenge as a multiplicity of expectations are to be met. Yet, these should not become impediments in the working of our legislative system. The art of democracy lies in finding a way forward, in which, differing viewpoints and interests are discussed, and a solution found through consultations. Naturally, there will be arguments in the process for the search for answers, but it should never happen that in the din we loose our way forward. At the end of the day, the worth, value and respect of a legislature, is judged by its output in terms of serious debate and legislations.
Every successive Parliament has had to face its own unique circumstances and to address a range of issues. Over the past two decades, we are observing changes such as an information explosion, technological innovations, increasing economic prosperity, growing materialism and in its midst the danger of losing values. Governments and legislative assemblies need to seriously reflect on these fundamental changes that are taking place. If unnoticed, our systems and institutions could be out-of-size and out-of-time. Therefore, deep thought should be given by Hon'ble Members to how our institutions, our administrative practices, legislatures and legal processes, can fulfill these growing demands and responsibilities effectively. Thought should also be given on how these can be strengthened. Another important aspect, which I believe needs reform, is the electoral process. Therefore, I would also urge constructive thinking on social issues, to be followed up by positive action.
My Dear Members,
As I look ahead into the future, I have confidence that our nation has the strength and the will to stand unitedly to surmount the challenges of changing times. This is because our Parliament and our legislatures have experience and also that every member has it within him or her, to make a better world. I reiterate what Gandhiji had said, "A democratic organization has to dare to do the right at all costs." To be able to do so, Parliament must be a robust body, with its members guided by values and a vision of the inclusive progress for the nation. I am confident that our Parliamentarians will deliver on this. Indeed, the functioning of the Parliament of the world's largest democracy must meet exacting standards, to set an example for the rest of the world.
In conclusion, I take this opportunity to once again thank you with all humility, for the unstinted support you have extended to me at every stage. Your cooperation had always been forthcoming and was a source of great strength for me. I will demit office of the President on 25th of July but your respect, love and affection will always remain with me as fond memories. All of you must continue with your work with a sense of purpose and steadfastness to reach your goal. Without a goal, obstacles are difficult to overcome. Lok Sabha Speaker, Shrimati Meira Kumarji is very good at reciting shero-shayari. Therefore, motivated by her, I will recite a couplet in this context:
The age-old values propounded by our leaders, sages and saints of every religion, have given our country immense inherent strength and the ability to maintain unity in diversity. You must keep these in mind, as you work for an India that is prosperous and progressive. This goal will surely, guide you in your work. I end with another couplet.
May you always be committed to the welfare of our people and the nation. With these words, I wish you all the best in your endeavors.