Gangtok; February 24, 2023: Lok Sabha Speaker, Shri Om Birla addressed the Valedictory Session of the 19th Annual Zone III Conference of CPA India Region at Gangtok, Sikkim today.
Shri Laxman Prasad Acharya, Governor of Sikkim; Shri Prem Singh Tamang, Chief Minister of Sikkim; Shri Harivansh, Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha; Shri Pasang D. Sona, Speaker of Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly and President of CPA India Region Zone III; Shri Arun Kumar Upreti, Speaker of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly; Presiding Officers of Legislative Bodies of India; Member of Parliament; Members of the Sikkim Legislature and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.
Later, Shri Birla interacted with the Press.
Shri Om Birla expressed concern over unparliamentary behavior and the use of undesirable words in political discourse and said that such incidents erode peoples' faith in democratic institutions. He stressed that probity is an essential ingredient of public life as it has a deep impact on public opinion. Shri Birla suggested that politicians should be restrained and dignified in their behavior inside and outside the House. Shri Birla stressed that the entire country looks up to the public representatives; what they say, what they do becomes an example, which is a huge responsibility on people's representatives. He added that the conduct, behavior and words of public representatives inside and outside the House should be such that it sends a positive message and establishes ideals in society and this applies to every democratic institution in the nation. Shri Birla also said that the responsibility of local bodies and panchayats is the same as that of the state and national level legislative bodies.
Shri Birla appreciated the active role of CPA India Region Zone III in organizing regular discussions among legislative bodies. Shri Birla said that the Northeast region, brimming with immense possibilities, is finding solutions to the challenges facing the region through extensive discussion and dialogue and is playing a leading role in the nation's journey of development. Referring to the various ambitious projects of the Union Government for the North Eastern region; Shri Birla said that due to the many important decisions taken by the Government coupled with the untiring efforts of the people, the North Eastern region has taken a giant leap towards development in the last few years.
In the context of the three themes of the conference namely 'Making Parliament and Legislatures more accessible to the public', 'Drug abuse and future plans to combat this menace', and 'Cyber Bullying', Shri Birla observed that all these three topics are very relevant in the context of all the North Eastern States and have been discussed at length during the Conference. On the topic 'Making Parliament and Legislatures more accessible to the public', Shri Birla said that in today's era technology is changing rapidly, therefore there is an urgent need to be proactive. Shri Birla said that work is going on in Parliament on an ambitious 'Digital Parliament Project', the main objective of which is to make the functioning of Parliament more accessible to the people and to make it an effective interface between lawmakers and citizens.
On the second theme of the Conference, Shri Birla said that drug abuse is a national problem. He added that it is a borderless crime, which makes the problem exceptionally challenging. Referring to the extensive international borders of the North Eastern states and the hilly terrain, Shri Birla said that due to these factors, there is a high risk of drug trafficking in the region. Shri Birla said that there is an urgent need for coordination not only among all the drug law enforcement and intelligence agencies but also among all border districts and states of the region to tackle the drug menace. Shri Birla urged public representatives at all levels to cooperate and coordinate and convey anti drug message to every community and emphasized on making the campaign a mass movement.
On cyber bullying, Shri Birla praised the Assam government's U Report, an interactive digital tool for online safety, and called for similar initiatives to be implemented in other states. He added that the youth are being provided opportunities to enhance their potential through 'Advancing North East' which will provide necessary knowledge and guidance to the youth of North East region regarding education, employment and entrepreneurship. Shri Birla urged the gathering to undertake reforms and change policies and laws in time so as to strengthen the legal system to meet emerging challenges. He emphasized that if need be stringent laws will be enacted to deal with this problem.
In his valedictory address, Governor of Sikkim, Shri Lakshman Prasad Acharya said that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association works together as a community in its commitment to the highest standards of democratic governance. It is purposefully serving its role as an association to for the parliamentarians of the Commonwealth countries by providing a platform for regular dialogue, exchange of ideas and information.
Shri Acharya further said that in order to make Parliament and Legislature more accessible to citizens, people's representatives need to inculcate the core value of love and compassion towards the citizens first. This value enables us to understand others better and the more we understand others, the more we will be able to alleviate their suffering, said Shri Acharya. Speaking on the effect of drugs and alcohol on the youth, Shri Acharya said that due to drugs and alcohol, youths fail to join the mainstream of the country or even if they do, their presence is negligible. So it is time that the legislators identify the root of this issue and take steps to uproot them completely. Shri Acharya called upon to fight this social problem together on the one hand and on the other hand suggested for stricter law enforcement, better rehabilitation centers and more sports complexes for the youth to deal with the growing menace of drug abuse. By working together, we can reduce the harm caused by drug abuse, asserted Shri Acharya. Speaking on cyber security, he said that the time has come that we all should take cognizance of the increasing cases of cyber crime. Promoting online safety and supporting victims is the need of the hour, highlighted Shri Acharya.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister of Sikkim, Shri Prem Singh Tamang said that three important issues viz. Making Parliament and Assembly more accessible to the Public/Citizen; Drug Abuse and way forward; and Cyber Bullying were comprehensively discussed in the Conference. He suggested that there should be regular debates and discussions on these problems as these problems are not limited to any geographical area but have spread globally. Shri Tamang expressed hope that the discussions held in the conference will take concrete shape and strong policy action will be initiated on this in future. Describing drug trafficking as a threat to national security, Shri Tamang said that the Sikkim administration is regularly conducting awareness programmes against drugs. Awareness programmes such as poster painting, quiz competition, essay competition, drama, cultural competitions etc. are being organized for school children. Shri Tamang noted that it is not possible to achieve the target of drug control alone, it is the collective responsibility of the government, departments and common citizens and only collective efforts in this regard can be successful. He said that guided by the vision of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, the goal of a 'drug free India' will be achieved.
Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha Shri Harivansh said that presiding officers have the immense responsibility on their shoulders for upholding the democratic ideals of legislative institutions. He added that for legislators, their first and foremost duty is to protect public trust in democratic institutions and to ensure that their work and processes are inclusive and accessible to the citizens. In this direction, Shri Harivansh said that it is immensely important for legislative institutions to be more responsive and accessible to the public, which will lead to a well-informed and participative citizenry and give rise to much deeper engagement between the public and their representatives.
Shri Pasang D. Sona, Speaker of Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly and President of CPA India Region Zone III thanked Lok Sabha Speaker Shri Om Birla for his guidance and support in organizing the Conference. Shri Sona said that the subjects selected for the Conference have implications on lives of all sections of society and expressed hope that the detailed discussion in the Conference on these issues and outcome of the Conference will have far reaching implications in shaping the society and in improving lives of people. Youth will be immensely benefited from the discussions in the Conference, said Shri Sona.
Shri Kunga Nima Lepcha, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Government of Sikkim delivered vote of thanks.