New Delhi; February 23, 2023: Lok Sabha Speaker, Shri Om Birla inaugurated the 19th Annual Zone III Conference of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) India Region in Gangtok, Sikkim today.
Chief Minister of Sikkim, Shri Prem Singh Tamang; Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha, Shri Harivansh; Speaker of Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly and Chairman of CPA India Region, Zone III, Shri Pasang D. Sona; Shri Speaker of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly, Shri Arun Kumar Upreti; Presiding Officers of Legislative Bodies of India; Members of Parliament; Members of the Sikkim Legislature and other dignitaries attended the event.
Emphasizing on discussion and dialogue and discussion, Shri Birla observed that it is the biggest strength of democracy. He added that the Legislature, as a forum to solve people's problems, must be a center of unhindered debate sans disruption which will increase peoples' faith in democratic institutions, thereby strengthening our democracy.
Speaking on the varied subjects of the Conference, Shri Birla said that 'Cyber Bullying' is extremely relevant in today's context, as a lot of people, especially teenagers and youth are getting affected by it. Shri Birla added that it is our endeavor to enact laws which aim to provide security and safety to all citizens. Information technology should be used to improve efficiency in governance and improving lives of people but at the same time safeguards should be taken to protect institutions and people from its demerits, added Shri Birla. He hoped that the conclusions that emerge from the Conference would lead improved solutions.
Speaking on 'Drug abuse and its solutions', Shri Birla said that drug abuse is affecting the young generation. This problem is not only present in the North East region, but in the entire country. Referring to the detailed discussions held on this matter in the Parliament on 20 and 21 December 2022, Shri Birla said that after a detailed and in-depth discussion on this topic, it emerged that Members must conduct a comprehensive public awareness campaign across the country to educate the youth. He urged all to work with a collective spirit to end the growing problem of drug abuse in the nation and work towards a drug free India. He expressed hope that public representatives would create awareness among the people in this direction and will work to provide right direction to the youth.
Speaking on the subject of making Parliament and Legislatures more accessible to the public/citizens, Shri Birla said that the manner in which active participation between Legislatures and the public has increased through the use of IT is remarkable, but we have to play a more active role. Referring to Digital Parliament, Shri Birla said that the work of the legislature is being taken to the public with the help of technology; social media has also emerged as an important tool for interaction. He called for greater participation of people in law making process so that laws can be made as per the hopes and aspirations of people.
Speaking on the economic potential of the North Eastern states, Shri Birla said that there are huge possibilities in the field of tourism, renewable energy, organic farming and handicrafts. He suggested that a strategy should be conceptualized in order to link the skills of the people of the North Eastern region with the national and global market to make sure that the whole region prospers. He also said that we must take a pledge that we will build the prosperous, developed and self-reliant India dreamed by the makers of our constitution.
Shri Birla further said that Zone III of the CPA India region is a very important platform. This Zone regularly holds discussions and dialogues among the legislators of the North Eastern region on many subjects and issues, and through this process, a common solution emerges on many subjects. He emphasized that with the joint efforts of the legislatures of the North Eastern Region and people's representatives, there has been a huge change in the economic and social life of the region.
Noting that the world had started adopting the digital technology during the COVID pandemic, Shri Harivansh, Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha pointed out that the Indian Parliament has also moved towards digitization to prepare for the future. He said that new IT reforms are being undertaken to enhance public interface with the legislative bodies. The Digital Parliament App and the National e-Vidhan Application are revolutionary steps in this direction. He expressed hope that during the discussion on the agenda item 'Making Parliament and Legislatures more accessible to the public/citizens', the participants would highlight the efforts being made towards effective interaction of the masses with a transparent legislature. Talking about the second theme of the conference, 'Cyber-bullying', he said that our mission of adopting new digital technologies to become a digitally empowered nation also has a negative aspect like cyber bullying. Citing global data showing India as a leading region in cases of cyberbullying, he expressed hope that the conference would find a solution to this emerging concern. On the third item on the agenda i.e. 'Drug abuse and future plans to tackle this problem', he said that the entire country is facing the menace of drug abuse. Pointing out that India is the youngest nation in the world, he urged all stakeholders to root out this problem to prepare the youth for New India.
The Chief Minister of Sikkim, Shri Prem Singh Tamang welcomed all the dignitaries present on the occasion. In his welcome address, Shri Tamang said that the entire North East region has witnessed remarkable and far-reaching changes under the leadership of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi. He further said that in today's time, the North East region has changed from being a Political Platform to a Developmental Platform. Mentioning the many development works done in the region, Shri Tamang said that the state and the region can see unprecedented progress due to infrastructure development like Multi-Modal Connectivity. He further said that similarly there is progress and development in all other dimensions as well. Appreciating the Act East policy of the Government of India, Shri Tamang said that such policies have proved to be a boon for the region. Mentioning the name of 'Ashta Lakshmi' given to the North East region by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Shri Tamang said that this initiative has increased the morale of the people of the region and the prestige and respect of the region.
Delivering keynote address, Speaker of Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly and Chairman of the CPA Zone III, Shri Pasang D. Sona said that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association has been at the forefront of bringing together legislators from around the nation and the world in order to discuss pertinent matters affecting the people. Shri Sona expressed happiness that the Zone III of the CPA India region has been regularly organizing Conferences. He recalled that the North East region has organized 19 Conferences in the last twenty five years on varied topics. Mentioning the unique culture, biodiversity, language, topography etc. of the North Eastern region, Shri Sona said that the people of the North East shared many challenges and issues; and that such Conferences allow for collective discussions to take place on the problems and challenges facing the region. Shri Sona noted that problems like Drug Abuse and Cyber Bullying have emerged as major issues of the current era. He added that it is very important to discuss and come up with appropriate solutions to these problems, as they disproportionately affect the youth, who are the future of the nation.
Delivering welcome address, Speaker of Sikkim Legislative Assembly, Shri Arun Kumar Upreti thanked Lok Sabha Speaker Shri Om Birla for inaugurating the Conference. The Conference will be a perfect blend of learning and networking on the topics relevant for the legislatures and the people, he observed. Shri Upreti expressed hope that the outcome of the Conference will enlighten the legislatures and the people's representatives to discharge the responsibilities in a more effective manner.
Earlier, on his arrival, Shri Birla inspected Guard of Honour in the premise of Sikkim Legislative Assembly.