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President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said economic development is vital to good governance, but added that we cannot distribute the wealth which we do not possess and therefore production of wealth must necessarily be one of the predominant objectives of state policy.
"However, this again must be imbued with the principle of equality with which there can be no compromise," he added.
President Mukherjee said an egalitarian society can only be created when growth is inclusive.
"It is important to ensure that there is justice and equality of opportunity and the state does not create conditions in which the privileged few gain at the cost of the multitudes who suffer endemic poverty. A sustainable society can only be based on the principles of egalitarianism," he added.
President Mukherjee, who delivered the first N.K.P Salve Memorial Lecture on 'constitution and governance' at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here, said the wisdom of the founding fathers in creating a quasi-federal structure despite providing for Westminster form of democracy requires to be recognized.
"We have achieved a significant degree of federalism, the living proof of this success being the political reality that aspirations of regional parties are finding a due place in government formation at the Centre," he added.
Stating that the constitutional machinery of dispute resolution is a measure of last resort, President Mukherjee said: "Adjudicative resolution of complex federal problems is never satisfactory. There is no substitute for statesmanship and good sense. Problems of governance reflected in disputes of these kinds must be resolved by rising above partisan political interest in a spirit of nationalism and in true adherence to the principles that democracy is about sharing and sharing alike."
President Mukherjee pointed out that India is not high on the world governance index.
"Though today India is the third largest economy in PPP terms, it is ranked very low in Regulatory Quality and Control of Corruption index. This would need to change. We cannot achieve true progress unless the governance improves. Not one section is responsible for the ills. The society on the whole has to reset its moral compass," he said.
President Mukherjee said amongst the institutions, which occupy in public perception a pride of place, is the Indian judiciary.
"True to the dream of the founding fathers, the judiciary is fiercely independent and has always acted as a check upon any Constitutional aberration," said President Mukherjee.
" Of late, the judiciary has been perceived to have assumed an expanded role. Some of this is the inevitable consequence of the innovative interpretation of rights, civil and political, enshrined in the Constitution," he added.
President Mukherjee said the defining feature of any democracy is that it replaces the rule of men by the rule of law and achieves this by creating institutions of governance and processes for their functioning.
The President said the Indian Constitution recognized individual rights and community rights and gave them primacy by calling them fundamental rights, making them enforceable and giving power to our courts to act as a bulwark against any attempt to restrict or curb them.
President Mukherjee said 'justice - social, economic and political - is in the life of any nation, a journey more than a destination.
"There have been measures of social justice which over the decades have slowly but surely shown results. Abolition of untouchability is one such measure. However, much needs to be done to achieve greater social justice, particularly gender justice," said President Mukherjee.
"To achieve social justice requires not mere governance but the transformation of social ethos, a recasting of mindsets and that is the job not just of the legislature, the executive or the courts, but of each one of us," he added.
President Mukherjee further said the ultimate goal of any democracy is the empowerment of the individual, irrespective of his economic, religious or social standing. (ANI)