Prime Minister’s closing remarks at the NIC meeting
Following is the text of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s closing remarks at the National Integration Council meeting in New Delhi today:
“Today’s deliberations have brought forth many useful perspectives and ideas, which will help better secure the Council’s goals. The Home Minister has already touched upon these in his summing up of the deliberations, and I request him to have these duly considered in consultation with stakeholders. I am sure that these consultations will result in the formulation of concrete responses to the challenges to national integration.
It is heartening that the Council members have displayed unanimity of purpose, reaffirming their resolve to combat the ills of communalism and terrorism and to create a more inclusive India. There is clarity that resort to violence and unconstitutional means cannot be justified. At the same time, the discussion has underscored the need to continuously and creatively work towards securing in greater measure the socio-economic and other aspirations of all sections of society. Several speakers have laid emphases on a focussed approach to end a feeling of alienation and discrimination among minorities and marginalised sections of society scheduled tribes, scheduled castes and women. In this, the Centre, the States and citizens all have important roles to play. A number of speakers have referred to the need to revisit our development model to promote greater inclusiveness and social equity.
On the specifics of the way forward, the richness of points of view expressed today will serve to guide the Government in its quest for fashioning optimal policy and legislative interventions that balance various concerns. There has been a lively discussion regarding the contents of the Communal Violence Bill. Concerns have been expressed about encroachment into States’ jurisdiction, against the spirit of federalism. Let me assure you that the Central Government is equally committed to preserving and strengthening the federal framework, which has served this country well. The point made by several speakers regarding the need to ensure fair and timely enforcement of laws, both by the Centre and States, is valid and I am sure my Ministerial colleagues and the Chief Ministers would have taken note of the concerns expressed in this regard. Ensuring that the law enforcement and investigation machinery does not carry any bias while discharging its duties also must be accorded the highest priority.
A suggestion was made regarding a trained force to deal with riots. At the Central level, we have in the Rapid Action Force, a proven model for such a purpose. Perhaps time has come for the Central and State Governments to explore ways in which States may be helped to create a well trained and equipped police Force, capable of meeting the challenges that are now on the horizon.
In handling civil disturbances, the lessons learned in Jammu & Kashmir and elsewhere, and examples of corrective measures, must be looked at closely and acted upon in time, so that unnecessary loss of life and limb is avoided.
Several speakers have referred to the need for engaging the energy and initiative of our youth for constructive purposes. I agree with the suggestions made by many esteemed members that opportunities for our youth to acquire skills, engage in nation-building and social work, and interact more actively in sports, cultural and other character-building pursuits need to be enhanced and encouraged. The creation of new opportunities for productive employment for our growing labour force was emphasized by many speakers. In this context, provision of education and health care facilities on an adequate scale assume great importance. I would urge my Ministerial colleagues and Chief Ministers to give careful consideration to this aspect.
There has been widespread support for the view that the Council should meet more frequently. The Government is in agreement with this view and we will ensure that the Council meets once a year hereafter.
I thank all of you for taking part in and contributing to today’s deliberations.