Let Minorities Live Without Fear, Deprivation: Pranab
By Express News Service | Published: 21st December 2013 10:26 AM |
The citizens of secular India should invest their energies into the removal of all vestiges of disabilities from the lives of the Scheduled Castes, Tribes and Backward Classes, President Pranab Mukherjee said here on Friday.
He was speaking after inaugurating the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of social reformer Mahatma Ayyankali organised by the Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha (KPMS) at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium here. “Disabilities have been removed in law. But unfortunately, prejudice, inequality and injustice still persist in relation to Scheduled Castes in our country.
“The change in status and living conditions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes since the adoption of the Constitution has been enormous, but still not sufficient. We must ensure creation of a society in which minorities can live in peace and do not have to fear or suffer deprivation,” the President said in his inaugural address.
Stating that inclusion and equal opportunity for all communities is the foundation of a free, progressive, modern India, the President said that persons of all castes, religions and regions are equal partners in the building of our country. “We must ensure equal opportunity to all people to realise their potential and develop their talents to the fullest,” he said.
About Ayyankali, the President said that he was a great social reformer and along with other social activists, began with the struggle against untouchability which then culminated in the freedom movement under Mahatma Gandhi adopting it as one of its major goals.
“He can be called the first labour leader of India. He pioneered the movement for democratising public places and asserting the rights of workers, much before the formation of workers’ organisations in Kerala,” Mukhrejee added.
Speaking on the occasion, KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala requested Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to consider writing off the bank debts of persons of Scheduled Castes, up to the tune of `1 lakh.
In his speech, the Chief Minister said that the request will be considered after discussing at the Cabinet. Governor Nikhil Kumar, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, BJP state vice-president A N Radhakrishnan and KPMS general secretary Baiju Kalasala were also present on the occasion.
Earlier, the President was accorded a warm welcome at the Naval Airstation here when he arrived from Thiruvananthapuram at 6.10 pm. The Governor, the Chief Minister, KPCC president and Union Minister Vayalar Ravi were also along with him in the aircraft.
The team, including ADGP A Hemachandran, Kochi Range IG K Padmakumar and Dirstrict Collector P I Sheikh Pareeth welcomed him.
‘Nothing to Read Between the Lines’
Kochi: Punnala Sreekumar, the patron of Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha (KPMS), who was supposed to present the Sabha’s message during the 150th birth centenary celebrations of Mahatma Ayyankali, was not present on the dais at the function. However, Sreekumar was present in the first row of the VIP seats. Regarding his absence on the stage, Sreekumar said that the decision was taken after the security personnel informed them that there will be restrictions on the number of persons present on the stage. “I have stepped down from the post of General Secretary of KPMS and now I am only a patron. Since only one of our representatives was allowed on the stage, we collectively took a decision to appoint our general secretary to welcome the President and other guests. There is nothing to read between the lines in this matter,” Sreekumar said.