Pranab Mukherjee awarded for achievements in political life in Istanbul

Istanbul, Oct. 7 (ANI): The President, Pranab Mukherjee, on Monday was conferred upon Honoris Causa in Political Science by the University of Istanbul for his achievement as someone who has spent decades in political life and contributed to governance and democracy in India.

In his acceptance speech, President Mukherjee shared his vision of 2047 India, which he hoped would a democratically mature, stable and peaceful nation in every aspect of independence, freedom and governance.

"India's democracy is an inspiration to the forces of liberty around the world. ...I certainly hope that with all this, in 2047-after one hundred years of independence-my vision of an India fully transformed into a democratically mature, stable and peaceful nation with freedom and opportunity for all will become a reality. It will be an India that is economically prosperous at all levels of society," Mukherjee said.

"In 1947, with an India coming into being after two centuries of colonial rule, many would have thought this vision as being far-fetched, but as envisioned by our national leaders, I am proud to say that today, this is a future well within our reach," he said.

"I am happy that the idea of 'India' has withstood the vicissitudes of time and presented itself as a secular, socialist, democratic republic, one that is non-aligned, non-violent and peace-loving as envisioned by the Father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. Our friends around the world, like Turkey, have contributed to making such an idea become a reality," he added.

Speaking extensively on his definition of 'good governance', Mukherjee said: "We share with Turkey a deep commonality in our respective political structures. The success of our democratic institutions lies in responding to the challenges of our time and the hopes and aspirations of our people. They have to usher in the change and achieve the progress that we desire in our two countries. A key factor that can contribute to its achievement is Good Governance."

"Absence of good governance has been identified as the root cause of many of the serious deficiencies in societies. It robs the citizenry of their security, and of their social and economic rights, ironically established for their welfare and collective good," he said.

Mukherjee said good governance is critically dependent on the existence of some fundamental pre-requisites, and at the core is the inviolable adherence to rule of law and delivery of justice. He explained that from these principles would emanate the existence of participatory decision-making structure, transparency, responsiveness, accountability, equity and inclusiveness.

"This would particularly imply the existence of a corruption free society and the presence of adequate avenues especially for the marginalised sections to have a definitive role in decision-making. In brief, good governance means the existence of an elaborate architecture that has the good of the people as their only foci. ... I believe good governance ought to be the essential, the most basic philosophy with the rule of law and justice being the most important tenets of good governance." Mukherjee said.

Recalling the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi, during his address, President Mukherjee said that his ideology would help pave a constructive path to the future.

"As I look around the world as someone who has lived on this planet for close to eight decades and as a Gandhian, I ask myself whether the ideals of patriotism, compassion, tolerance, self-restraint, honesty, discipline and respect for women are prevalent to the extent that they should be. I have endeavoured in my private and public life to contribute to these very ideals, which I believe, are the very essence of being human," Mukherjee said.

Further exploring the idea of 'good governance', Mukherjee said that rapid creation of employment opportunities is an essential aspect of the implementation of good governance.

Specifically, commenting on India's growth story, Mukherjee said: "Today, despite challenges, and occasional setbacks, India is no longer defined by her problems but by her achievements and the opportunities it offers. We have become a trillion dollar economy, the largest in Southeast Asia. We also have the largest middle class in the region. The last decade has seen India emerge as one of the fastest growing nations in the world. During this period, our economy grew annually at an average rate of 7.9 per cent. We are self-sufficient in food grains production, the largest exporter of rice and the second largest exporter of wheat."

"However, achieving equitable economic growth is still a challenge. So also is the complete elimination of poverty, although a declining trend in the poverty rate is clearly visible," he added.

Mukherjee also reiterated India's need to provide its citizens with entitlements backed by legal guarantees in terms of right to employment, education, food and information. "We also need to ensure that these entitlements lead to real empowerment of the people," he said.

With an eye on the future of the country, Mukherjee said that a growing economy and stable internal and external security are the challenges that face the country.

"Our trajectory of high level growth will need to be sustained. Our continued success will need to be earned. In spite of our achievements during these transformational decades, there remains much work to be done," he said.

"We will have to also strengthen the rule of law and good governance practices. We will have to ensure harmonious relations among our diverse ethnic and religious groups which, in a secular polity, is of supreme importance for nation building," he said.

"We have learnt the difficult way that unless there is peace at our borders, development, and harmony cannot be achieved. India and Turkey live in extremely difficult geographies, and both of us are aware of the grave challenges to our security, internal as well as external. However, I am sure you would agree that India's commitment to peace is unfailing .We continue to sustain moderation, pluralism and tolerance in our society," he added.

Mukherjee concluded his speech by reciting a verse from Nobel laureate, Indian poet and philosopher, Rabindranath Tagore's Geetanjali, which, he said, summarized his hopes and dreams for a successful and fully developed India ready to take its rightful place in this world.

President Mukherjee is in Turkey after completing his state visit to Belgium.

He is expected to return home today. (ANI)

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