Addressing Governors and Lt Governors at the two-day "Conference of Governors" here, the President said public sentiment against corruption in public life was on the rise as this menace stalled development and eroded rule of law.
“There is also heightened expectations among our citizens from the Indian polity. Corruption stalls development, undermines social progress, undercuts confidence in the fairness of public administration, impedes good governance, erodes the rule of law, distorts competitive conditions, dampens investments and above all hurts the common man the most.
“It has to be rooted out. The remedy lies in a multi - pronged strategy combining preventive and punitive interventions, including simpler rules, transparent processes, judicious exercise of discretion, prompt delivery systems, better public awareness, public accountability and discharge of responsibilities with utmost rectitude," she said.
Patil also spoke about the menace of ragging in educational institutions and urged the Governors, who are also Chancellors of state universities, to play an important role to wipe it out from the system.
“I will also like to focus your attention on the inhuman conduct on the part of senior students, inflicting physical cruelty and mental torment on freshers, that have outraged society. The apex court has taken a strong stand against ragging. The Ministry of Human Resource Development has endeavoured to build a credible architecture of deterrence.
“Many States have enacted laws, rules and regulations to prevent ragging. The regulatory structures have to be constantly monitored and all inadequacies removed. While it is the primary responsibility of the management of educational institutions and teachers to prevent ragging, parents and guardians have to be mobilised to counsel their wards to behave more responsibly," she said.
Patil also sought to rope in NGOs to foster a climate of awareness against ragging.
“Your persuasive influence, especially as Chancellors of state Universities can immensely help in wiping out this blot," she said.
The President also asked Governors to play a pivotal role in safeguarding the interests of the varied sections of population living in autonomous district councils created under the Sixth Schedule.
“It is often complained that the Autonomous District Councils created under the Sixth Schedule have been stunted in their functioning, due to tight regulatory control by the state government and impediments in the flow of funds. The counter complaints are that wherever Autonomous District Councils become entrenched, they have deprived traditional village institutions from having a say in decision-making," Patil remarked.
Pointing out the role of Governors in the Sixth Schedule areas, she said they should play a pivotal role in safeguarding the interests of varied sections of population residing there, and in harmoniously inter-twining the indigenous good governance practices and traditional institutional mechanisms with modern system of administration.
Touching upon various other important issues, Ms. Patil said “we cannot lose sight of the multiple challenges of terrorism, Left Wing Extremism and insurgency facing us. India"s external and internal security is paramount and requires foremost attention."
Both Central and state governments have to work hand-in- hand to fortify security architecture, and create an effective deterrence to achieve zero tolerance of terrorist activities, she said.
Another area where the Constitution casts a specific and special responsibility on the Governors is the administration of Scheduled Areas and the role of Governors acquires greater relevance since a large chunk of the Scheduled Areas is affected by Left Wing Extremism, she said.
“There is a felt need for a sensitive and sympathetic administration. You may also urge the state governments to intensify the government - tribal interface at the grassroot level, to map out the most optimal path for their good. The functioning of the Tribes Advisory Council has to be invigorated," the President said.