“Resolve to make 2013 the year of safety and dignity of mothers, sisters and daughters”

Stating that “we are ashamed of what happened in Delhi recently,” President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said, “A country which cannot respect its mothers, sisters and daughters cannot be called a civilised country.” The President said respect for women has to be inbuilt in “our culture” and should become a “way of life.” “Respect cannot be inculcated by laws alone,” Mr. Mukherjee stated.

Speaking as the chief guest at the concluding function of the quasquicentennial (125 years) celebrations of the Uttar Pradesh legislature on Tuesday, the President said there could be no “justification” or “excuse” for the Delhi gang rape. He said we must resolve to make 2013 the year of safety and dignity of “mothers, sisters and daughters.”

A commemorative stamp was released by the President. Communications Minister Kapil Sibal was also present.

While recalling his days as a parliamentarian and having worked with leaders like N.D. Tiwari, V.P. Singh, Charan Singh and Mulayam Singh, the President expressed concern over the disruption of House proceedings. “Disruptions not only disturbed the proceedings in the House, it was a denial of rights to other members,” Mr. Mukherjee said.

Emphasising orderly behaviour by the elected representatives, the President said, “Disruption is not an effective parliamentary intervention, it is a negation of parliamentary proceedings.”

Mr. Mukherjee illustrated this by giving the example of the 14th Lok Sabha. He said 15 sessions of the 14th Lok Sabha accounted for 1,992 hours. “Of these, more than 416 hours were lost due to disruptions,” the President said. He added that the people’s representatives must follow the rules, which have been framed by them. He said it was a great honour to be a people’s representative, but it also brought a big responsibility of protecting the interest of the nation and the people.

“The elected representatives should introspect on how much time has been devoted to discussing issues of complicated matters,” Mr. Mukherjee said.

The President stressed on discipline and maintaining the dignity and decorum of the House. Stating that disagreement was an integral part of democratic expression, he added that due to its “misuse,” precious time was lost when it “could be utilised in a purposeful debate.”

Mr. Mukherjee, who started his address in Hindi and later switched over to English after seeking the permission of the “House,” mentioned the vital role played by Uttar Pradesh in shaping the country’s politics. He said its legislature had been showing the way to India’s political journey and hoped that it would continue doing so.

Mr. Sibal said India’s politics was defined by the political changes in Uttar Pradesh. The country was facing serious challenges, but, hopefully, the State would take the lead in facing them, he said. The Communications Minister said efforts should be made for making the future of children bright.

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav traced the history of the legislature and said the country’s development was intrinsically linked with the State’s development. If Uttar Pradesh progressed, the country would develop, Mr. Yadav said.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh urged Mr. Mukherjee to ask the Centre to accord priority to the farmers, and “talk to the Centre for giving special help to Uttar Pradesh.”

The function was attended by former Chief Ministers, Narayan Dutt Tiwari, Rajnath Singh and Jagdambika Pal. However, the event was boycotted by Mayawati and Kalyan Singh. Speakers of Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana legislative assemblies were also present.