Khanpur Kalan: Amid rising cases of crime against women, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Friday said "our heads hang in shame" due to recurring incidents of rapes and other violence against women. Flagging concerns about female foeticide and crime against women, Gandhi exhorted women not to bow down to difficulties in future and face them with courage as the country needs them at all responsible positions.
Her remarks came as the country celebrates International Women's Day on Friday. "Such incidents (rapes and crime against women) are happening all over the country.Our heads hang in shame because of these rapes and crimes against women," Gandhi said at the dedication of a Women's Medical College and Convocation ceremony of Bhagat Phool Singh Mahila University in Haryana.
Noting that the Congress-led UPA government has taken several steps to protect women and empower them socially and economically, she said a bill will soon be passed to tackle crime against women. She spoke about government's budget announcement about earmarking Rs 1,000 crore each for opening women's banks across the country and Nirbhaya Fund.
A bill has also been introduced to give share to women in parental property and to stop incidents of sexual harassment and domestic violence, she said. Congratulating women on the occasion of Women's Day, she said, "One needs to take stronger steps to end the stigma on rape victims and other victims of crime against women. "It is the responsibility of educated girls and everyone to raise your voice against these social ills," she said.
Noting that India has an "unsettled neighbourhood" and needed to remain alert, Singh said the government will "never compromise" with its national interests. "With Pakistan, we have made sincere efforts to normalise relations. We have achieved some results, people to people contact and trade has shown improvement.
"But there cannot be normalisation, unless and until the terror machine, which is still active in Pakistan, is brought under control. This has been our policy since last 9 years and
this will be our same approach to deal with Pakistan in the coming times," the Prime Minister said.
On the plight of ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka, Singh shared the concern expressed by members and asked the government there to ensure "dignity and self respect" to them. "We have been worried about the fate of Tamil people in Sri Lanka.. There must be political reconciliation. Without the reconciliation, the situation cannot be resolved there. "Sri Lanka government must take initiative to talk to the Tamil leadership in Sri Lanka and ensure that the Tamil people are given a life of dignity and self respect," he said.
Singh said India wants its neighbours to prosper and will work with them to strive for providing the SAARC region with new growth, not achieved so far. Terming the debate on the Motion of Thanks as "vigorous" and "wide-ranging", the Prime Minister tore into BJP's charge that his government has not handled the economy well as he cited figures to show the growth had been better during the UPA rule than the NDA rule.
He particularly singled out Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley for his attack, saying he should assess the economic situation in an unbiased manner, using his "good sense" and not merely score political points. He shared the members' concern over the slow-down of economy during the current fiscal but exuded confidence that the country will get back to the path of 7 to 8 per cent growth in the next two to three years.
Hooda also noted that girls fared better than boys in the field of education in 2011-12. Steps such as Priyadarshini Awaas Yojna have been taken under which 3.5 lakh houses would be constructed in rural and urban areas for poor people and the woman of the family would have ownership rights, he said.
Parents of only girl child were being given monthly pension from the age of 45 years. Assistance of Rs.31,000 and Rs.11,000 is also being given on the marriage of girls belonging to Schedules Castes and daughters of widows living below poverty line, he said. The program was attended by Haryana Governor Jagannath Pahadia, state Education Minister Geeta Bhukkal and Vice Chancellor of the University Pankaj Mittal.