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Pratibha calls for inclusive growth
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
Breaking a male preserve and enjoying the unique distinction of being the country's first woman President, Pratibha Devisingh Patil as the Republic's "first citizen" stressed it should be "our combined endeavour to sustain the historically unprecedented rates of growth and ensure that it is socially inclusive."

In her brief assumption address delivered in the Central Hall of Parliament here this afternoon, after being administered the oath of office by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice K.G Balakrishnan, Ms Patil affirmed that "empowerment of women is particularly important to me as I believe this leads to the empowerment of the nation."

To realise the full potential of the people, she said "we must invest in their capabilities and empower them with modern education and comprehensive health care. A relentless campaign must be waged against poverty, ignorance and disease to seek a better future for our

children. We must show wisdom and foresight in protecting our planet and environment for the good of all living species and future generations."

Ms Patil called for every section of society, particularly the weak and the disadvantaged, to be made equal partners in and beneficiaries of the development process. "We must ensure that every region of the country participates in and benefits from the process of economic growth."

She said the people of the country desire better governance, faster development and a life of peace and security. "We must all stand united in the fight against such divisive and destructive tendencies as communalism, casteism, extremism and terrorism."

As soon as she took the oath of office 21 guns boomed in salute signifying that a new President had taken office. This was instantly followed by a sharp shower.

In an all military affair, the traditional swearing in ceremony was undertaken with precision. It was attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Cabinet colleagues, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Governors, Chief Ministers, leaders of various political parties, Members of Parliament and the Diplomatic Corps. Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who lost the Presidential poll as an independent backed by the NDA, was also present.

With Ms Patil giving permission to ring down the curtain on the swearing in ceremony, the first woman Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces was given a smart and formal salute as she came out of the Parliament House complex to be taken to the imposing Rashtrapati Bhawan.

On reaching the erstwhile Viceregal Lodge, Ms Patil was accompanied by Kalam to the study where she was formally installed as the country's new Head of State.

Thereafter, Kalam bid adieu to Rashtrapati Bhawan and moved to a makeshift accommodation in North Delhi till the Rajaji road residence selected for him was prepared for occupation. The country's first scientist President, left with two suitcases.

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‘Please-all’ first speech
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
A deliberate effort was made to ensure that the new President Pratibha Patil’s first speech was politically correct, having been vetted personally by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The speech, delivered soon after her swearing in in the Central Hall of Parliament this afternoon, contained references to all the right persons and was meant to keep all UPA partners in good humour and also address their respective constituencies. If there was one name, which was conspicuous by its absence, it was that of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

UPA sources said the text of the four-page speech was prepared by the Prime Minister’s Office and was first cleared by Manmohan Singh before it was sent to Sonia Gandhi who is learnt to have studied it for at least three hours before giving her approval. It is learnt that she did not favour any reference to Rajiv Gandhi in the speech.

With the Opposition unleashing a high-decibel campaign against Pratibha Patil in the run-up to the Presidential election, the ruling combine was particularly keen that the new President’s first speech should not create any ripples and also make a lasting impression. The challenge was to make a please-all speech.

As it happened, the speech had the mandatory reference to Mahatma Gandhi and the contribution made by Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad and Sarojini Naidu to the country’s freedom struggle. Indira Gandhi merited a mention as the country’s first woman Prime Minister who accorded priority to the “upliftment of the underprivileged and alleviation of poverty”.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, whose party’s support was imperative for Patil’s victory and who flew down for the swearing-in ceremony, must have been particularly pleased with the reference to Babasaheb Ambedkar's closing speech to the Constituent Assembly.

Similarly, the sensitivities of the the Left parties were also kept in mind as Patil ended her speech with a reference to Rabindranath Tagore’s famous words about India “awakening into that heaven of freedom where the mind is without fear and the head is held high.” Rani Lakshmibai, Begum Hazrat Mahal and Kitturu Rani Chennamma were given pride of place as brave women who battled foreign rule. In the process, Patil made sure that the North and the South got equal billing.

Since Patil has the distinction of being the first Maharastrian to become the Head of State, her speech could not have been complete without some reference to her home state. Patil did not fail on this front.

A couplet from the works of the great 17th century Marathi poet-saint Sant Tukaram was especially included to ensure that the Marathi people did not feel let down. The translation of the two-line quotation, however, proved to be quite time-consuming as minister of state in PMO, Prithviraj Chavan, had to take the help of a Mumbai-based academic although it had initially appeared to be a simple exercise.

Patil's speech writers also agonised for hours on the order in which should address the leaders in her opening lines. According to protocol, the Vice-President is given second position after the outgoing President, followed by the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker and the Chief Justice. Since Bhairon Singh Shekhawat had resigned as Vice-President, his name could not be included. However, Rajya Sabha deputy chairman, could not be given the second slot since he's only the acting chairman till the next Vice-President takes over. After much consultation, it was decided to place him lower in the order.

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