Development can go hand-in-hand with environmental protection, PM Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India’s growth was testimony that economic and infrastructure development can go hand-in hand with environmental protection. PM’s comment came in his inaugural address at the international judicial conference 2020 organised by the Supreme Court of India on Saturday.
While India has grown from being the 11th largest economy to the 5th largest economy in the last five to six years, its forest cover has also expanded substantially, the PM pointed out.
“Thus, India has shown that infrastructure development can happen simultaneously with the protection of environment,” he said.
Foreign dignitaries including the Right Hon’ble Lord Robert John Reed, President of the Supreme Court of United Kingdom and Hon’ble Susan Kiefel AC, Chief justice of Australia are attending the conference the two-day conference.
The Prime Minister also highlighted government’s initiatives for gender justice.
He said more girls enrolled in educational institutions than boys for the first time in India and this, the PM claimed, was on account of successful government schemes such as ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’.
The government has brought about many changes for empowerment of women including appointment of women in military service, changes in selection process of fighter pilots and freedom of women to work in mines at night, Modi said.
India, the PM said, is among the few countries in the world which sanctions paid maternity leave of 26 weeks to women.
Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who was also present at the inaugural function, commended the steps taken by the prime minister with regard to women’s rights.
Gender justice, he said, is at the core of India’s constitutional ethos and the prime minister has taken a lead in empowerment of women in India.
“One-third of the 4 million professionals who work in IT sector in India are women. Our Prime Minister was bold enough to permit that women Indian Air Force pilots will also fly fighters planes and this was complemented by the recent judgment of Supreme Court where Indian women army officers were given the right to command. These are great initiatives of women empowerment”, Prasad said.
PM Modi also claimed that his government has worked with sensitivity and responsiveness to the needs of modern society by enacting laws for the rights for transgender, law against triple talaq and expanding rights of persons with disabilities.
Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde said that the Constitution makers in India studied various models of Constitution from different parts of the world and tailored our Constitution to fit the country’s diversity and thought.
Individuals and rights of individual are at the heart of the Constitution and the rights have been balanced with demands of public order, morality and health, he said, while underscoring the significance of duties of citizens.
Central government’s top law officer attorney general (AG) KK Venugopal in his speech on “taking poverty to the courts”, highlighted the role of the government and the Supreme Court in reducing poverty in the country in pursuit of the goals of a welfare state set out in the constitution.
Venugopal said India has moved beyond the traditional concept of fundamental rights and has made human living conditions a facet of right to life.
“Traditional concept of human rights violation is torture, illegal incarceration, violation of freedom of speech. But there is another dimension – allowing to live in sub-standard human conditions. It is now well settled that so far as poverty is concerned, if there is a failure on the part of the state, the state will be violating fundamental rights”, said the AG.
Various schemes by the government coupled with expanded interpretation of the fundamental right to life by the Supreme Court contributed to the reduction in poverty level from 70 percent in 1950 to 21 percent as it stands today, Venugopal claimed.
“The government has brought in a series of social reforms, about 50 of them. A few of them are Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005, the Prime Minister’s life insurance scheme, the Prime Minister’s People’s Wealth Scheme, the Prime Minister’s All India Mass Medicine project,” he said.
“To cap it all we have an Act which was recently passed, known as the Food Security Act as per which food grains are distributed at subsidized rates to about 70 percent of the people of the country”, the AG said.
Interestingly, some laws cited by the AG were introduced during the tenure of Congress-led United Progressive Alliance at the centre.