New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday urged parliamentarians to not make disrupting Parliament a "trend" and asked them to spend sufficient time discussing financial matters. Speaking at the first NKP Salve Memorial Lecture on constitution and governance, the President "drew special attention to frequent disruptions of the functioning of legislatures and Parliament".
"This trend should be corrected," he said, according to an official statement issued in Delhi. He further called upon parliamentarians and legislators to spend sufficient time in discussing financial matters, the budgets and the five-year plans. "If sufficient time is devoted, corruption could be checked in the bud," he said.
The Budget Session of Parliament is beginning on February 21. The President reiterated the need for changes in governance and society's mindset. "India cannot achieve true progress unless governance improves. Not one section is responsible for the ills. The society on the whole has to reset its moral compass," he said.
"The ultimate goal of any democracy is the empowerment of the individual, irrespective of his economic, religious or social standing. This may appear to be a utopian dream for many, but the strength of a system lies in its capacity to ceaselessly work for its accomplishment," he added. Mukherjee also said a system should be created so that access to politics is not limited to a privileged few.
Noting that the challenges of governance are always enormous, he said: "It is more so, in a country that has 17.5 per cent of the world's population but only 2.4 per cent of land resources and 4.2 per cent of world's natural resources with a society which is multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi religious." "The challenges are compounded by development issues faced by around 355 million people living in poverty," he added.
The President said there is "some sense of satisfaction that despite the challenges" India continues to remain firmly rooted to secularism. "...the basic principles of equality of all religions, the right to freedom of thought and conscience and the right to practice and profess religion and to establish institutions of choice have been steadfastly observed in this country," the President said.
"There have been aberrations and every communal conflict, irrespective of its magnitude, scars the conscience of our nation," he said. The problem, he said, is now exacerbated by terrorism that professes religious underpinnings. Speaking about the judiciary, the President said it is fiercely independent and has always acted as a check upon any constitutional aberration.
"Of late, the judiciary has been perceived to have assumed an expanded role. Some of this is the inevitable consequence of the innovative interpretation of rights, civil and political, enshrined in the Constitution," he said. "As is inevitable, the courts at times are perceived as having strayed into areas which are best left to the executive government or to the policy makers in the legislature. "The separation of powers is a constitutional feature over which there has never been any doubt, and should be respected at all times," the President said.