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Rashtrapati Bhavan : 29.11.2014

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjeeinaugurated the 40th National Conference of the Indian Sociological Society today (November 29, 2014) at Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidhyapith University, Varanasi.

Speaking on the theme of 'Development,Diversity and Democracy', the President said India's social scientists should critically evaluate our successes and failures. There should be clarity on what is the meaning of Development. Does it mean only GDP growth or also include elements such as Gross National Happiness adopted by Bhutan? Expressing confidence that India will soon achieve 8-9 % annual growth and become a three trillion dollar economy, the President asked social scientists to identifyhow growth can be achieved without destruction ofenvironment. He said climate change and erratic behaviour of the monsoons would have tremendous consequences for our country and people. He asked scholars to come up with corrective measures.

The President said many were sceptical if democracy would survive in India in the early days of our independence. However, our democracy has been a huge success. The 2014 electionsto the Lok Sabha has established how 1.27 crore people are fully capableof governing themselves. He cautioned at the same timethat democracy is much more than just voting andelections. Our Constitution encompasses an all embracing vision of justice- social, economic and political. We cannot afford to ignore any of these ideals in pursuit of the other. Moreover, during the Anna Hazare Movement citizens were galvanised into a force through public awarenessandGovernment was compelled to have a dialogue with social activists. This shows that our political systemhas evolved into a model where legislation and action can be scrutinised by the public at every stage, even if there is no right to recall of elected representatives.

The President said India lives in diversity and our biggest strength is diversity. Attempts to bring uniformity have failed and Indian civilization has survived because of diversity and the spirit of tolerance towards each other. He said the manner in which people of different backgrounds, language, culture and ethnicity come together and sit in one legislative chamber under one Constitution reflects the strength of India's diversity.

ThePresident concluded calling upon the Conference to discuss how we can celebrate India's diversity,strengthen democracy andmove ahead with development.

This release issued 1810 hrs.