India today was equal to any nation in many respects but one should not turn a blind eye to the large number of people who struggled to get a square meal a day, Justice Altamas Kabir of the Supreme Court said on Friday.
Delivering the second annual Dr L.M. Singhvi memorial lecture, on “Sixty Years of Indian Constitution and the Common Man”, in memory of the eminent jurist, diplomat and parliamentarian, Justice Kabir said the basic needs of the common man were not manifold or too difficult to achieve.
“He (the common man) wants access to food, clothing, shelter, education and health care,” Justice Kabir said.
He said there was unrest in several parts of the country as people had been deprived of basic amenities. “Tribals are living in abject poverty.”
He said there was no dearth of welfare schemes or finance for (welfare) programmes but “more often than not” the benefits fail to reach them. “Let’s meet the problems head on. Let’s try to do something about it,” he exhorted. “The provisions are there but the will has to be there. A certain amount of commitment, dedication and integrity is required to alleviate the problems of the people.”
Justice Kabir said the common man today needed reassurance from those in governance.
Speaking on the occasion, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said the election of more than a million women in Panchayati Raj institutions had brought about a great transformation in society.
“The best thing about our democracy is that the meekest and the poorest get to participate in governance by way of elections but the worst thing is that these elections are largely fought on caste politics.”
She observed that the caste system and democracy could not live together as one in the long run would finish the other. “I hope democracy triumphs in our country and the caste system gets buried once and for all.”
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said the government had done everything necessary for growth but the actual delivery in terms of distribution was possible only through local governance.