Blames it on poor governance, calls for resetting "moral compass," expresses concern over diminishing morality

Remembering the young paramedical student who was brutally gang-raped in a moving bus in Delhi last December, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said India’s consciousness was “grievously hurt” by that shocking incident of sexual assault and death of the girl who was “the symbol of an aspiring nation.” Expressing concern over diminishing morality in the society, he said the time has come for the nation to reset its “moral compass”.

Linking the incident to poor governance, the President said: “At the root of poor governance is our lethargy for change, whether it is in the implementation of schemes or adherence to values…Lack of good governance has been identified as the root cause of many of the serious deficiencies in society. It robs the citizenry of their security, and their social and economic rights.”

Speaking at the Central Bureau of Investigation’s golden jubilee celebrations, Mr. Mukherjee said: “The police and investigative organisations can play a crucial role in creating conditions that could engender societal changes.

An alert police force and investigative agency can ensure that no crime goes unpunished. It is important to ensure speedy and thorough investigation of allegations. The prosecution should also be speedy so that the guilty are punished without delay. This would enhance the deterrent value of punishment. It would improve responsiveness, one of the most important features of good governance.”

He further noted that India was “at the cross roads of transformation” and the nation “cannot afford to lose the momentum of change.” “There are several challenges we face and we should face them with determination and conviction. And, at the root of it all is the issue of governance,” he said.

Pointing out that corruption was a threat to the democratic fabric of India which would frustrate the efforts to bring equity to citizens, he stressed that growth must be inclusive and sustainable.

Challenges

The President said challenges to governance systems were reflected in some important international analyses which were mainly dependent on the social index. “India’s ranking in key governance indicators like Voice and Accountability, Political Stability and Absence of Violence, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law and Control of Corruption is lower than countries such as Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States,” he said.

Explaining how good governance was critically dependent on fundamental pre-requisites, Mr. Mukherjee said: “At the core is the inviolable adherence to rule of law. From it would emanate critical need for participatory decision-making structure, transparency, responsiveness, accountability, equity and inclusiveness…Good governance means the existence of an elaborate architecture that has the good of the people as their only focus. Good governance should create a conducive and enabling environment for the people to pursue their happiness.”

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