New Delhi, Jan 25 : President Pratibha Patil today called for a collective action to counter terrorism, while cautioning that terrorism constituted a grave threat to the civilized world.
In her first Republic Day address to the nation, President Patil said: "Today, terrorism constitutes a grave threat to the civilized world. The continuing terrorist attacks are reminders of the need to take collective action."
"India will continue to work with the international community to create a better world - a world free of terror, poverty, disease, ignorance and inequality," she added.
Condemning the internal threats posed by Naxalism, Patil said: "In a democracy, there is no place for violent methods. Naxalites exploit sentiments of discontentment in the undeveloped parts of the country," and added that "growth of Naxilism should be handled firmly."
Observing that 70 percent of the country's population lives in the rural areas, she expressed concern about farmers committing suicide and hoped that steps taken by the Government to ameliorate their problems will rectify this situation.
Expressing concern over the slow growth in the agriculture sector, Patil said there is a need to expeditiously work towards bringing a Second Green Revolution in the country.
"The Green Revolution showed that we could through our efforts become self-sufficient in food production and later we replicated this success in milk production as well. Today, once again we need to give agriculture an impetus, to enhance productivity and to make our rural areas, centres of agro-processing and other related industries," she said.
Noting that the country has a strong lead in Information and Communication Technology and bio-technology sectors, she called to continue investment in research and development as also to build educational institutions.
She said students should be encouraged to pursue basic sciences.
"State Governments and educational institutions should make special efforts to attract students to science disciplines. Education is the most important tool for empowering the people of a country," Patil said.
Mentioning that women constitute about half the population, but face a number of challenges, she said: "There should be laws for the empowerment and protection of women and most importantly, their effective implementation."
She said there is a need to address social evils like child marriage, female foeticide, female infanticide and dowry, and called upon women and the youth of the country to take up the challenge to eliminate these social evils.
Patil pointed out that people's participation is key to the effective implementation of programmes and projects launched by the Government, adding that there is a need to create a band of committed social workers and civil society members to spread awareness and to share the onus of implementing schemes.