The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu today called terrorism as the common enemy of humanity, peace and development. He also called upon the civil society all over the world to collaborate and create a global consensus at platforms such as UN for strong policy framework against the all forms of terrorism.
Addressing the centennial celebrations of Rotary International in India in Kolkata today, the Vice President said that peace is a prerequisite to development and everyone should work to curb the menace of terrorism.
The Vice President stressed that India believes in peaceful coexistence and wants peace with all its neighbours. Ours is a country that has never invaded any country in our long history, he said and appealed to all countries to come together to eradicate illiteracy and poverty from the world.
Shri Naidu said that NGOs should take lead in the poverty eradication and socio-economic empowerment of the marginalized sections of the society. He asked the civil society organisations to supplement the efforts of the governments for sustainable and inclusive growth.
Highlighting that more than 60 percent of Indians still live in villages, the Vice President wanted every livelihood project to factor in this aspect and focus on strengthening the rural economy.
“Lack of basic amenities and employment opportunities in rural areas are causing forced migration. We should seriously work towards bridging this rural-urban divide”, he said.
Expressing concerns over the declining interest among youth to take up agriculture as profession, Shri Naidu asked the organizations like Rotary to train and skills the youngsters to become agri-entrepreneurs.
The Vice President also stressed the need to encourage the farmers to diversify and take up allied activities like poultry, fisheries, and floriculture.
“It would it would ensure a regular source of income for them and thus help to withstand the vagaries of nature”, he added.
Shri Naidu appreciated the good work being done by the Rotary International in the field of education and health services and appealed to all stakeholders to work for a poverty free India.
The Vice President also called upon the NGO community to work towards a 100 percent literate India by providing much needed essential literacy to adults who missed the literacy bus and getting the street children into the formal school structure. He also called for modernizing the classrooms with electronic blackboards and creating Happy Schools by improving the basic infrastructure in the schools. He called upon everyone to make India a Vishwa Guru again.
“Teachers, especially in various government schools need constant training”, he said.
In addition to promoting literacy, the Vice President suggested NGOs to focus on imparting livelihood skills for youth and women so as to enable them to supplement their families’ income.
Calling water conservation as the need of the hour, Shri Naidu appealed to everyone to become a partner in the Government’s efforts for water conservation. Noting that the Jal Shakti Ministry plans build more than one lakh check dams in India in coming five years, he appreciated the Rotary’s move to build more than ten thousand check dams.
The Vice President said that share and care is the core of Indian philosophy and since time immortal, Indian society believed in “living together” and “working together”. In the past, it used to be a common practice for the rich to come to the aid of the poor in the villages, he said.
Appreciating the role of Rotary in eradicating polio, Shri Naidu said that the history of Polio eradication in India has shown that the government and committed NGOs can forge effective and successful partnerships.
“I would like to see more such partnerships for the betterment of the communities at large”, he said.
Highlighting need to promote philanthropy in today’s consumer-driven and materialistic world, Shri Naidu called for inculcating compassion and the qualities of sharing and caring from childhood. Children need to develop empathy and not sympathy for the less fortunate, he said.
He exhorted the organisations like Rotary to involve schools and colleges in community-service to enable the children to develop the spirit of volunteerism and spiritual values from a young age. He even suggested that the New Education Policy must also seek to promote the spirit of volunteerism among the students and also earmark certain marks for such activities.
“together we have to turn the programs like Beti Bachao -Beti Padhao, Swachh Bharat, Fit India, Yoga into people’s movement. We have to create a society which does not discriminat with anybody because of his cast, creed or gender”, Shri Naidu said.
The Governor of West Bengal, Shri Jagdeep Dhankar, Minister for Science & Technology and Biotechnology, Govt of West Bengal, Shri Bratya Basu were among the 4000 delegates from 32 countries present at the event.
Following is the full text of the speech –
“I am pleased to be here amongst you all for the centennial celebrations of Rotary International in India.
Over the last hundred years, your organization has taken up so many initiatives that have brought smiles to millions of people around the globe. You have been playing a notable role in bringing succor to people who needed help, relief to the distressed and a better quality of life through education and healthcare services.
Dear sisters and brothers,
I am happy to note Rotary is actively involved in conducting blood donations, assisting community projects such as constructing schools, literacy drives including e-learning, the building of check dams, providing potable water, sanitation, cancer awareness campaigns and heart surgeries, among others.
I would like to compliment Rotary for its efforts in eradicating polio in partnership with the government of India, WHO, UNICEF and lately with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The history of Polio eradication in India has shown that the government and committed NGOs can forge effective and successful partnerships. I would like to see more such partnerships for the betterment of the communities at large.
I have been informed that the next thrust area of Rotary in India is literacy and you are doing it under TEACH program of Rotary India Literacy Mission. Teachers, especially in various government schools need constant training.
Modernizing the classrooms with electronic blackboards, providing much needed essential literacy to adults who missed the literacy bus, getting the abandoned and street children into the formal school structure and creating Happy Schools by improving the basic infrastructure of the schools are essential to inspire young students.
I am also very happy to note that Rotary has adopted Water as one of its thrust areas. While the Jal Shakti Ministry of the Government of India has planned to have more than 100,000 check dams in India in the next five years, Rotary has committed to build 10,000 plus check dams by different rotary clubs of India during the same period. I compliment Rotary for becoming an important partner in the Government’s efforts for water conservation.
Dear sisters and brothers,
India is facing many daunting challenges with some sections of the populace living in poverty and remaining unlettered. These are the areas in which globally-reputed NGOs like yours can take the lead and be at the forefront to help in the social and economic empowerment of the marginalized people.
Development can be accelerated if there is an active involvement of all the stakeholders. While the government frames the policies and programmes, the pace and quality of implementation depends on the participation of people, the civil society organizations, the academia and the private sector.
Organizations like Rotary India can play a leading role in promoting sustainable and inclusive growth by supplementing the efforts of the Union Government and various State Governments.
Partnership and collaboration are key modalities for inclusive, sustainable growth. More congruence we have of our larger objectives and more space there is for each of us to contribute to the objective, the faster will be the growth trajectory and more inclusive will be the growth process.
In fact, the Indian ethos has always underscored this principle of working together.
The Upanishads are a record of teachers and the learners learning together. They also espouse the power of collaboration. For instance, an ancient Vedic prayer begins with the words, “Samgachadhvam” signifying the need to move together with a common objective. In fact, “living together” and “working together” are two key competencies that India has believed in over the years. The world perhaps needs to adopt this approach as it moves to implement the ambitious 2030 Sustainable Development agenda.
From time immemorial, India has the tradition of sharing and caring. Share and care is the core of Indian philosophy. Charity was not only in the form of donations or giving alms. It also involved setting up of rest homes for pilgrims and providing them free food and accommodation. In the past, it used to be a common practice for the rich to come to the aid of the poor in the villages.
Although Governments at various levels have been taking measures to ameliorate the conditions of the marginalized sections, the need of the hour is for voluntary organizations like Rotary to supplement the efforts of Government and fill the gaps, particularly in areas like education and healthcare.
In addition to promoting literacy, I would suggest certain other areas of work that might be relevant for the Indian context.
Imparting livelihood skills for youth and women to enable them to supplement their families’ income is one of them. It should be borne in mind that about 60 percent of Indians still live in villages and every livelihood project must factor in this aspect and focus on strengthening the rural economy.
It’s a matter of concern that the number of people preferring to continue agriculture as their main occupation is gradually declining. A host of factors are responsible for this situation and the foremost among them is the lack of adequate returns to the hard-working farmers. I am afraid that if the same trend continues, more and more people will leave farming and look for other types of livelihood. Hence, my suggestion to organizations like Rotary is to facilitate training and imparting of skills for the youngsters to become agri-entrepreneurs.
Besides, the farmers should also be encouraged to diversify to take up allied activities like poultry, fisheries, and floriculture to ensure a regular source of income. It would help them to withstand the vagaries of nature.
There is a great need to promote philanthropy in today’s consumer-driven and materialistic world. It is important to inculcate compassion and the qualities of sharing and caring from childhood. With nuclear families becoming increasingly common these days, especially in urban areas, it becomes imperative to make children sensitive to the needs of others. In other words, they need to develop empathy and not sympathy for the less fortunate.
There is a great need to inculcate the spirit of volunteerism and spiritual values from a young age in the present-day competitive, career-oriented and consumer-driven world. In this context, I would like organizations like yours to involve schools and colleges in community-service to enable the children to develop an attitude of caring and sharing.
There is a need for greater involvement of students in voluntary activities or community-related activities as it would create a positive bonding between the students and the community and enable the students to learn new life skills.
As a matter-of-fact, the New Education Policy must seek to promote the spirit of volunteerism among the students and also earmark certain marks for such activities.
Dear sisters and brothers,
Since the promotion of peace and goodwill around the world is one of your objectives, I would like to stress that peace is the prerequisite for development. In turn, the humanitarian work and development efforts put in by organizations like yours can lay a stronger foundation for lasting peace.
There is a need for the people, particularly the youngsters, to develop a positive outlook and adopt a constructive attitude. India, as you all are aware, is known for its unity in diversity, pluralistic ethos and peaceful co-existence of people of all faiths. This ethos should be nurtured and the tremendous energy of youth must be channeled in creative channels through projects that focus on creating societal value and strengthen social and community bonds.
मैं रोटरी इंटरनेशनल जैसे स्वयं सेवी संगठनों से अपेक्षा करूंगा कि वे ग्रामीण भारत की समस्याओं के समाधान हेतु आगे आएं। भारत की अर्थव्यवस्था मूलतः ग्रामीण है, हमारे संस्कारों की जड़ें ग्रामीण संस्कृति में जमीं हैं। महात्मा गांधी के जीवन दर्शन से प्रेरणा लें। राष्ट्रपिता का विश्वास था कि भारत की आत्मा गावों में बसती है। महात्मा गांधी का जीवन ही नि:स्वार्थ, रचनात्मक जन सेवा की प्रेरणा देता है।
समाज आपसे अपेक्षा करता है कि आप स्वच्छता अभियान, बेटी बचाओ, बेटी पढ़ाओ, योग, फिट इंडिया, पोषण अभियान जैसे रचनात्मक समाजिक आंदोलनों में अनुकरणीय अग्रणी भूमिका निभाएंगे।
आप सामाजिक और लैंगिक भेदभाव जैसे कुरीतियों के विरुद्ध जन जागृति करें। समाज में रचनात्मकता और सकारात्मकता का माहौल बनाएं और जन सामान्य को समाज के प्रति सकारात्मक दृष्टिकोण रखने के लिए प्रेरित करें। यह सकारात्मकता ही हमारी अंतर्निहित रचनात्मकता को प्रेरित करेगी।
My good wishes to all of you! I am confident that Rotary shall continue its extraordinary work in the years to come and make this world a better place to live.