Inaugural Address of HS at the 16th North East Region Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (NERCPA) Conference at Imphal, Manipur, 15 June 2017
Hon'ble Chief Minister of Manipur, Shri N. Biren Singh ji ĽJh ,u- fcjsu flag˝; Hon'ble Chairman of NERCPA and Hon'ble Speaker, Meghalaya Legislative Assembly Shri Abu Taher Mondal ĽJh vcq rkfgj eaMy˝; Hon'ble Speaker of Manipur Legislative Assembly Shri Yumnam Khemchand ji ĽJh ;eue [ksepUn th˝; Hon'ble Presiding Officers; Distinguished Delegates; Ladies and Gentlemen!
1. I am happy to be here amidst you for the 16th Conference of the North-East Region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA). It is always a pleasure to be here in this part of the country, fondly referred as the land of the Seven Sisters. I take this opportunity to thank the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Manipur, Shri Biren Singh ji and Hon’ble Speaker of the Manipur Legislative Assembly, Shri Yumnam Khemchandji and everybody associated with organizing this Conference for the gracious hospitality and warm welcome extended to me by the friendly people of the State. We met previous year in Agartala and now in Imphal. During this period, Assembly Elections took place in some of the North Eastern states and people of the State have given their mandate to govern and develop the respective states with responsibility and diligence. I wish them success in their endeavours and hope they will fulfil and meet the aspirations of the people.
2. Imphal, this beautiful and scenic city, rich in history being one of the oldest towns of ancient India, stands majestically at the centre of the Manipur valley. It is rich in art and tradition and surcharged with nature's pristine glory. This is the place where Rajashree Bhagyachandra created famous Ras Lila, the Classical dance of Manipur, out of his enchanting dream by the grace of Lord Krishna.
3. Even in our Indian philosophy and Vastu Shastra North-East is considered as a place of sanctity and the most auspicious direction where most powerful, positive and progressive energies are generated, so peace, harmony and development in North East is very important. As I said earlier also India cannot develop without development of North East.
4. We all know that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) aims to promote good practices and traditions of parliamentary democracy among the Commonwealth fraternity. Evolving with changing times, the CPA has grown multi-fold and has about 17,000 members from about 185 legislative bodies. CPA offers us a platform for exchange of ideas, issues and success stories which would help us in overcoming common challenges faced in the process of making a progressive society. You all are well aware that India is an active member of the CPA and since 2004 India has been conferred the status of a region within the organisation.
5. I am very happy to note that the North East Region CPA, too has been actively involved in promoting the ideals of parliamentary democracy. With close to 500 Members of Legislative Assemblies of North Eastern States, has become a unique legislative fraternity of this region. The Conferences organized by NERCPA have commendably served as an important platform for the legislators of this region, to address and deliberate on the critical issues and problems affecting the North-East.
6. I understand that the main theme of the Conference is: ‘North East and Look East Policy’. We always view our North East as a window in our efforts to connect with the East Asia which is playing a vital role in the emergence of a resurgent Asia. We want to be a part of this dynamic development which will be beneficial to the nation in several respects. The Government is having an ambitious plan to build road and port connectivity with the South-East Asian countries through Myanmar for promotion of trade, commerce and tourism. When these projects are fructified, North-East will immensely benefit.
7. I would like to mention here a quote of great philosopher which is very much relevant and of utmost importance. 'When an idea exclusively occupies the mind, it is transformed into an actual physical or mental state.' Our Look East Policy has now converted into an 'Act East Policy'. 98% of borders of North-East India are international borders shared with Bhutan, Bangladesh, China and Myanmar and should be explored as a trade and commerce opportunity.
8. Friends, in a democracy the Legislature is a powerful agent of change. The legislator is the bridge between the Government and the public. His role is to reflect the hopes and aspirations, even the fears and frustrations of the people on the floor of the House and influence policy making in the process.
9. We all are aware that the focus of the world today is on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. As elected representatives, we have a great role to play in accelerating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, by way of legislations, House debate, and parliamentary oversight, coordination with the Executive irrespective of whether we are from the Treasury Benches or the opposition. What this means is that we have to keep ourselves familiar with a range of subjects and issues. Friends, it is a fact that today governance and policy making has become a highly complex process. The emphasis is on good governance based on transparency, openness and accountability. In this scenario, in order to perform our duties effectively, it is essential to seek the guidance of domain experts in several areas which are technical in nature. We need to accept the fact that we are not experts in all subjects though we might have a bird’s eye view of many issues. I have realized the problems members faced in Parliament in understanding several key issues that confront the nation and come up for the consideration of Parliament. In order to address this issue, it was decided to bring in domain experts to orient members by creating a perspective on various important issues. It was thus that the Speakers’ Research Initiative (SRI) was established in the Lok Sabha Secretariat in July 2015.
10. SRI focuses on identifying core areas/issues of long term, strategic policy and generate high quality research inputs and devise appropriate mechanism for interaction with members of both the Houses of Parliament for the purpose of information dissemination and capacity building. SRI has got eminent people and domain experts associated with it. It organizes workshops, seminars, and interactive sessions at regular intervals on key issues, which has been widely appreciated by members of Parliament. I believe that a similar mechanism for the North Eastern States would be of great help to the Hon’ble Legislators. I would like you to reflect on this and I would be happy to extend all help in this regard for the benefit of the public representatives of the region. Yet another related initiative which we have taken at the Lok Sabha is a Fellowship Scheme for researchers to produce books on issues of interest to the Parliamentarians and an Internship programme to involve bright students from Universities and colleges in research on issues of Parliamentary interest. This is a kind of outreach programme which brings Parliament closer to the people.
11. The Central Govt. has initiated various plans for development at macro as well as micro level for the undeveloped, underdeveloped and remote areas of the North-Eastern States. And the result is infrastructure development in this region is moving at a remarkable pace in this region. Our Prime Minister pays special attention to the North-Eastern States. Infrastructure such as transport, waterways and railways are being rapidly developed in the area. Recently he opened longest river bridge namely Bhupen Hazarika bridge link (The Dhola-Sadiya Bridge-9.5 kms.) between Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. It is a significant example of emphasis placed on development of North-East. This will also address our national security concerns.
12. Today North-Frontier Railway directly or indirectly serves all the eight north eastern states. There is a massive push for new railway projects in North-East. It has a target to reach all state capitals of North East by 2020. For example the on-going Jiribam-Imphal railway line will link the Manipur capital to the rest of India through rail.
13. Tourism has the potential to be a major component of revenue generation and regional economic growth in North East India. North East can provide tourism of many kinds like eco-tourism, ethno-tourism, golf and tea-tourism, heritage-tourism and adventure tourism. Tourism provides direct benefits to the local community and businesses. It creates opportunities for small and micro-enterprises.
14. Now-a-day, the focus of the Govt. is on Digital India Programme, E-Governance, E-Court and E-Commerce etc. These newly technological advancements have provided various opportunities for everyone. You, people, full of energy and vivid ideas can conquer whole world by using these opportunities. Let us spread the message of innovative ideas by touching every human heart. Give them a message that 'Until you spread your wings, you have no idea how far you will fly.'
15. The whole idea of Parliamentary democracy and duty of a legislator can be expressed in a Sanskrit Shloka which is also inscribed in a portion of Central Hall of our Parliament House:-
^^v;a fut% ijks osfRr x.kuk y?kqpsrlke~
mnkj pfjrkukarq olq/kSo dqVqEcde~AA**
(He is mine and he is other, is the thought that narrow minded people have. For noble people, entire world is family.)
16. Distinguished Delegates, I am quite optimistic that the deliberations and discussions during this Conference will bring up many new and innovative ideas and perspectives and will go a long way in addressing various developmental issues and challenges of the North-East.
17. With these words, I once again thank you for inviting me to this Inaugural Function and I wish the Conference a grand success.