Istanbul: In a speech at Istanbul University yesterday evening, President Pranab Mukherjee talked no less than nine times about the importance of “good governance” and said stability, growth, progress can only be achieved by execution of “bold policy measures”.
The remarks immediately set off speculation that the president, an intensely political person but who, by virtue of his constitutional position, is now above politics, was obliquely referring to public sentiments back home over the performance of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government that has been criticised for apparent “policy paralysis” and poor governance, allowing the country to be swamped by a spate of crises and scandals in the last years of his tenure.
The president was honoured with an honorary doctorate in political science by the University of Istanbul at the start of a three-day state visit.
Mukherjee said India shared with Turkey a deep commonality in political structures. But the success of democratic institutions lay in responding to the challenges and fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the people.
“A key factor that can contribute to its achievement is good governance,” the president said with emphasis.
“Absence of good governance has been identified as the root cause of many of the serious deficiencies in societies,” he stated.
“Stability, growth, progress — all this could only be achieved if we set the right priorities and execute bold policy measures to achieve them,” he said.
“I believe good governance ought to be the essential, the most basic philosophy with the rule of law and justice being the most important tenets of good governance.”
He came back to this theme again towards the end of his speech, saying “rapid creation of employment opportunities is an essential aspect of good governance”.
He said “India’s transformation will require the hard work and diligence of the country’s people, and particularly, good governance that its leaders have to steer.
“We will have to also strengthen the rule of law and good governance practices,” stressing on the theme for the nth time in the course of his half-hour address.
“We will have to ensure harmonious relations among our diverse ethnic and religious groups which, in a secular polity, is of supreme importance to nation building,” he concluded, leaving many to wonder about the intended target of his meaningful observations.
The president told journalists yesterday he had nothing whatsoever to do with the government deciding to take back a controversial ordinance on lawmakers, which he said, was the cabinet’s decision and should not be attributed to any reported displeasure shown by him.