On the eve of the 67th Independence Day, my wife and I extend our warmest greetings and good wishes to the people of Mizoram.
Independence Day reminds us of the values of human dignity and determination, self-respect and resolve, courage and conviction against domination, repression and exploitation. It also reminds us of the values of pride and patriotism, hope and harmony and unity and integrity of the country. We must recall that the national struggle was steered by these values and freedom was achieved through sacrifices by many. It is the day to remember our freedom fighters with gratitude and re-position ourselves to the service of the nation and society with greater sincerity.
We are a land with variety and diversity. Secularism is our spirit and’strength. The Constitution is our governing philosophy and guide. Democracy is our faith and fervour. The last sixty six years have been years of great progress for our country. People have been empowered in many ways. Welfare of the people and the vision to makeIndiaa stronger nation in ihe region and the world have been the only focus of the Government’s efforts. In the spheres of science & technology, information and industry, agriculture and education we have made significant strides.
Rights-based approach to development is a new commitment of the Government. Gone are the days when people’s rights to choose, criticize and change the Government were exercised only through ballot. People now have the power of new rights to seek information, scrutinize performance, question decisions and demand greater transparency in the system every day. They have now a legal and rightful claim to basic services through service level agreements. They have right to education. Future years may empower them with more rights. However, much is left to be addressed and done. There are many challenges to handle. From poverty to scarcity, disparity and security, problems are multifarious. But our resolve is strong and efforts steady. We have to work together and act together.
We must not forget that the Constitution of India prescribes Fundamental Duties alongside Fundamental Rights. The duties anticipate cherishing and following the noble ideas, which inspired our national struggle for freedom. These also anticipate striving towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement. It is time that we, as individuals and citizens, realise our duties.
Devolution of power that aims to take democracy to grass-root level institutions in the country is an opportunity. Common people can reap the benefits of democracy better if there is a deeper sense of welfare and wisdom in the general perception of the concept of power and in the process of decision making at local levels. Developmental schemes that aim to attack poverty, hunger, unemployment, social unrest and insecurity can be more effective for the common people if there is a sense of service in the process of implementation and a sense of equity in claim for benefit. De-regulation of economic sector that is intended to encourage competition and technological innovation can be more beneficial if there is honesty of intentions in entrepreneurship and sense of enterprise and industry. Surely, private initiative, howsoever small, is potential of tremendous contribution in the well-being of the society and in the nation building process.Independenceof thought, action and deed expects sense of duty and responsibility on part of every individual in the society to substantiate the meaning of freedom.
You are a valuable resource to the state and the country. Many of you have earned name not only for Mizoram but for the whole country. You have the force of faith in you to serve the society, the state and the nation, in fact, leadership is effective if fellowship is dedicated to a cause. You have made Mizoram a peaceful and a forward-looking state. Despite the hardships of terrain, Mizoram has become a fairly developed state in terms of basic infrastructure and well-conceived initiatives. Developmental efforts of the State Government have improved the life and quality of people. Endeavours for improvement and betterment across all sectors of development are a commitment with the Government.
I am happy that the beneficiaries of New Land Use Policy are beginning to reap the benefits of the programme. As a sustainable land-based programme intended for a positive impact on the economy of rural areas it is also contributing to protection of environment and conservation of water sources. It is also complimenting the central initiative of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme for comprehensive rural development in the State. Alongside, efforts for land reforms also have a promise for the rural poor and agricultural work-force.
In the sphere of energy and power, the initiative by the present Government for Tuivai Hydro Electric Project is praiseworthy. The Project aims to generate 210 MW electricity, make Mizoram a surplus power State in the region and help boosting the economy. The Project would be a pride for Mizoram not only in terms of capacity but also in terms of conception as the first big project under PPP mode in the North Eastern Region.
You are a State with youthful energy and youthful enthusiasm. Mizo youth have scaled the Everest and excelled in other areas of adventure and sports. Mizoram can confidently and rightfully boast as one of the few States in the country with quality sport infrastructure and facilities. A number of indoor and outdoor stadium equipped with artificial and astro-turf and various other modern sports equipments show the priority accorded by the Government for realizing the potential of Mizo youth and channelizing it for constructive purposes.
Health and Education sectors have also witnessed a visible improvement through policy interventions and infrastructural development. Legislative efforts going hand in hand with focus on governance aspects of development and delivery systems have a potential for participatory, progressive, accountable and transparent systems to get firmly established.
Mizoram with its long international borders looks forward to becomingIndia’s trade link with theSouth East Asia. I am sure, irrespective of certain problems, the State would witness further development on completion of Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport Project. However, the potential for trade is attendant with possibility of the menace of drug trafficking to grow. People and the youth of the State need to be careful about it. I have a great confidence in the Church and Civil Society organizations who are ever watchful of the menace.
People, as I said earlier, are a critical resource for every society and nation. Women and children are respectable and a valuable part of every society and nation. Safety of peoples’ life and property is crucial. Drugs and disasters both need preventive strategies. Community participation is essential in planning and role of individual still more. A number of deaths that took place in the landslide in Mizoram few months back and loss of life in recent floods in Uttrakhand reiterate the urgency of preventive planning. I express my deep sorrow for the families who lost their near and dear in the nature’s fury against human activities.
Mizoram is a state with natural beauty. Hills, rivers, valleys and forests are enticing. We have a duty to respect nature’s beauty and bounty and, harness its wealth for beneficial returns through new initiatives in the areas of tourism and adventure. Man and nature are inseparable. Nature provides peace for mind and soul. Man prefers peace in midst of nature.
Peace and tranquillity are perceived as a natural feature of Mizoram. Your contribution in maintaining the peace is a confidence for further progress. Mizoram would be electing representatives to the new State Assembly in next few months. The State has an impressive record of holding free, fair and peaceful election in keeping with highest tradition of democracy. I have no doubt that each one of us, including our bureaucracy as well as political parties, would conduct themselves towards reaffirmation of the same principles in the coming elections.
On this auspicious occasion of Independence Day, I once again reaffirm my faith in potentialities, perseverance, performance and progress of you all. I am sure, with strength of faith in human endeavour and human values and with commitment to patriotic principles and national priorities, we will makeIndiaa stronger nation.