Resolve NE crisis by constructive dialogue: President

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New Delhi, Feb 17 (UNI) President Pratibha Devisingh Patil today cautioned that the country must resolve the grievances of people of North-Eastern region through 'constructive dialogue and democratic manner'.

Addressing the "National Conclave of North-Eastern States for Access to Justice to Women in the Region"here, Ms Patil said, ''like all citizens, people from the North-East were also looking for progress and prosperity.'' With the country achieving high growth rate of about nine per cent per annum, she was sure that India will be able to live upto the expectations of the people of the region.

She said the story of development in the North-East was similar to that of other parts of the country. While much had been achieved, large section of society still remained outside the ambit of progress, she regretted. "It is only when the country is responsive to the weakest voices that we can truly achieve the democratic ideal", Ms Patil said.

The President said empowernment of women and gender equality was one of the tasks the country was yet to achieve. Though women constituted 50 per cent of the population, they did not have the same opportunities as their male counterparts. They faced discrimination and so many social biases. The NE women were hardworking, running the household and enjoyed better equality in society as compared to several other parts of the country.

To help the women realise their rights, political, economic and social instiutions and strucure would have to work in tandem.

The women had been provided with 33 per cent reservation in the local bodies. The Government, she said, was making efforts to create conducive environment to address their concerns.

Ms Patil also expressed the need for educating women to empower them and called for special focus on education programme for women and girl child with implementation of necessary incentives for the latter.

She said it was the national endeavour to bring NE region closer and developing it. Stressing that geographical features had posed constraints in the overall development of the region, Ms Patil said that the states of North-East required to be made more accessable for the easy flow of not only commerce and trade but also of ideas and new technological developments.

Infrastructure development of road, rail, air and telecommunications would help in realising the potential of the region and would provide better connectivity with the rest of India, making people-to-people contact easier, she added.

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