30 May 2012

PM’s Address in Central Hall of Parliament on 60th Anniversary of the first sitting of the Parliament

Following is the text of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s address at the special function in Central Hall of Parliament on the occasion of 60th Anniversary of the first sitting of the Parliament:
            “The Sixtieth Year occupies a very special place in the hearts and minds of our people.  The ancient calendars devised by our forefathers, that we still use to mark our time in this world, have a cycle of sixty years.  Thus, life begins anew for us every sixty years.
As we mark the 60th Anniversary of our Parliament, I sincerely hope that life will begin anew for our Parliament and for our people.  I pray that the year ahead for our nation will be productive, peaceful and prosperous.
Six decades ago history was made in these premises.  The voice of India's silent majority found free expression.   A generation of men and women, tried and tested by the struggle for freedom, entered these portals fired by the desire to build a new country infused by the noble ideals of our great civilization.
            In these six decades, these halls and these walls have been witness to a unique experiment in the history of humankind.
            Never before had such a diverse group of subject people, stunted by poverty, ignorance and disease risen so resolutely to create, not kill; to construct, not destroy;  to represent, not repress. 
The story of the Indian Parliament is a story of the human striving for freedom and dignity; for tolerance and equality; for peace and progress.
Our Parliament has not just voiced the concerns and aspirations of the Indian people alone, but those of all humankind, of every freedom loving person who seeks a life of dignity and peace. 
            Our Parliament stands as a unique representation of the values that created our Republic – of Unity in Diversity, of Secularism, of Pluralism and of the Rule of Law.
            How we conduct ourselves, how the Parliament conducts itself, is therefore, a way of showing respect to these values and to the memory of those who created and built this symbol of freedom and dignity. Each one of us owes it to those who sent us here to not only represent their views and their interests, but to do so with dignity, compassion and decorum. 
            Our democracy has passed through many testing times.  At every turn the people of India have with great enthusiasm and hope reiterated their faith in the democratic character of our State and reaffirmed the pluralistic character of our polity and society.  Among democracies around the world India has one of the highest voter turn-outs in elections. 
            We should firmly reject those who would mock the institutions of our democracy that have developed over decades of experience.  We are not a perfect democracy.  But we are a functioning democracy with mechanisms and safeguards that allow for the reconciliation of diverse interests and differences of opinion.  It is the vitality and vibrancy of our democracy that keeps the nation united and moving on the path of progress.
            I know that many people often feel frustrated by the disruption of Parliament.  In our own way each one of us shares the blame for this state of affairs.  However, we are proud of the fact that both Houses of Parliament have often burnt the proverbial midnight oil to discuss and debate some of the most important issues that concern the people of India and the world.
            It is a matter of great pride that our Parliament has debated and approved some of the most progressive legislations anywhere in the world such as those relating to the right to education, the right to guaranteed employment for the rural poor, the right to information, the legislation conferring gender equality, protecting the life and livelihood of the girl child and women and legislations that have widened social and economic opportunities for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and religious minorities.
            These august Houses have witnessed many great debates that stirred the imagination of the people.  They have seen sparkling wit, humour and eloquence from Members from all sides.  The wisdom of their thoughts has echoed far beyond these walls.  Unfortunately the number of serious discussions in Parliament has declined in recent years.
            We have to revive this tradition of reasoned and constructive debate in Parliament on the issues of the day.  This is the only way to earn the people's respect, lead public opinion and provide media with serious content that will raise the level of public discourse as in other mature democracies.
            In the final analysis, it is the Members of Parliament who will individually and collectively determine how effectively Parliament represents the aspirations of the people and guides the destiny of our country. Let us pledge to work together to build a united, secure and prosperous country that holds its head high in the wider comity of nations.
I wish each one of you well.  Jai Hind!|”

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