Mukherjee asks governors to work for women's safety

New Delhi, Feb 11 (IANS) There is pressing need to bring about a change in the mindset of society so that women are treated with dignity and respect, President Pranab Mukherjee said Monday, urging state governors to work for the safety of women.

Inaugurating the 44th conference of governors at Rashtrapati Bhavan here, Mukherjee said the meeting was taking place in the shadow of the unfortunate incident of brutal rape and death of a young woman in Delhi which had shaken the collective conscience of the nation.

The woman, gang-raped and tortured Dec 16 night in a bus, died in a Singapore hospital Dec 29 last year.

According to a Rashtrapati Bhavan press release, President Mukherjee told the conference that the government had taken prompt action on the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee to enhance provisions of law that relate to the safety of women.

"He urged the governors to work towards improving the security and welfare of women. He said there was pressing need to bring about a change in the mindset of society so that women are treated with dignity and respect," the release said.

The president said there was improvement in the country's internal security last year but there was need for constant vigil.

He said the government's commitment to strengthen counter terrorism must remain strong, and stressed that programmes undertaken in bordering areas to improve infrastructure needed to be expedited.

Calling for steps to strengthen delivery systems of government programmes, he said states that have progressed faster had well-administered delivery systems.

He said the government has devised a strategy focusing on increasing production in the eastern region for ensuring food security while preparing for crop diversification in Punjab and Haryana.

"A second Green Revolution in eastern India will require sustained focus and effort by all concerned agencies at the centre and the states. It will address long pending issues of low productivity and low income of farmers in eastern India," the president said.

He said the government had decided to implement an agriculture development programme for 'Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI)' under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) in Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and West Bengal in 2010-11.

He said the allocation for the programme in the current fiscal was Rs.1000 crore and the sustained efforts over the past three years had led to the eastern region contributing a record production of 55.34 million tonnes, out of total rice production of 104.32 million tonnes in the country during 2011-12.

Referring to the First Green Revolution and its environmental impact, Mukherjee said the country had to make a second Green Revolution sustainable by laying emphasis on soil health and water management right from the beginning.

He said the government had announced a National Water Policy (2012) and its implementation would help meet challenges faced at present.

"India is already a water-stressed nation and with further reduction in per capita availability of water, we will soon be a water scarce nation. It is estimated that by 2050, 17 percent of the population will be under absolute water scarcity," he said.

Mukherjee said the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) was a major investment programme for urban infrastructure creation and pointed out that some states have lagged behind in implementation of the urban governance reforms.

He called for speeding up the achievement of reforms as well as completion of the approved projects within the next year.

He said that cities and urban areas contribute more than 60 percent of Gross Domestic Product and and 80 percent of incremental job creation in the country.

Mukherjee said the country should strive to reap the demographic dividend by providing proper education and skills to the youth.

"It is proposed to create an additional enrolment capacity of 10 million students including 1 million in open and distance learning by the end of the Twelfth Plan," he said and called upon governors to promote access to higher education with equity and excellence.

He asked the governors to address faculty shortage, improve quality of research and inspire a culture of innovation, increase the use of technology for improving access to higher education, have better linkages with industry and make education more employment oriented.

He said the central government was launching a National Mission on Teachers and Teaching to address issues relating to faculty in a holistic manner.

The president said institutions of higher education need to evolve from their present role as knowledge providers to knowledge creators and promote wealth generation.

The two-day conference is being attended by Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and many union ministers.

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