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Terror Attacks
It’s not work of non-state actors: Prez
R. Sedhuraman
Tribune News Service

R-Day ADDRESS

n Region harbours epicentre of terror
n Technology should be used to counter terrorists
n India’s unity unaffected by Mumbai attacks
n India can help revive global economy
n Need for stronger corporate governance

New Delhi, January 25
Without naming Pakistan, President Pratibha Patil today rejected the contention that “independent actors” were behind the attacks on Mumbai and other places and observed India was located in a region that “harbours the epicentre of terrorism.”

“Arguments that terrorism is being perpetuated by independent actors are self-defeating and cannot be accepted. Countries must own up their responsibilities as must the international community in defeating terrorism,” the President said in her customary address to the nation on the eve 60th Republic Day.

As a responsible nation, India’s conduct of its foreign relations since independence has been to promote peace and development. “We are, however, located in a region which harbours the epicentre of terrorism. We have been victims of terrorism over the last two decades,” she lamented.

The international community must take decisive and united action against terrorism, which posed a grave threat to the stability of the world. No country could afford to take an ambivalent attitude in this fight, Patil said in her nationally televised address that lasted 21 minutes each in Hindi and English.

Touching upon the major events in the past year, she said India has been witness to developments in the financial and security scenario, both at the global and the national level - terrorism and violence, natural disasters, volatility in oil and food prices, and a global economic slowdown.

“These tested the inherent structures and systems for dealing with emergent situations, throwing up challenges of addressing inadequacies and highlighting the need to reinforce monitoring and response mechanisms.”

While talking of terror attacks, she specifically mentioned Mumbai: “The concerted and well planned attacks in Mumbai stand out as an example of a ruthless operation undertaken to damage the confidence of India. The nation was outraged. However, contrary to what the terrorists had hoped, the event saw the emergence of a unified and strong voice from India.”

The large voter turnout in the subsequent assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir and other states, however, showed that the people had faith in a democratic polity and “unity is our greatest strength.”

Appealing to the people not to give in to regional, sectarian or caste considerations, she said these concepts militate against the very principles the nation chose to follow when it began its journey after independence.

“All Indians, undoubtedly, have many identities but with an underlying common identity of being India. We may hail from one region but belong to a different caste or religion or speak a different language, but that cannot dilute our Indian identity,” she said in an apparent reference to the recent attacks on North Indians living in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra.

Devoting some time for technology, she said the launch of Chandrayaan-I had made every Indian proud, while the nuclear deals made India a participant in the international regime for nuclear energy. Technology should be used to counter terrorist threats. “We should be far ahead of the terrorists who are increasingly using sophisticated technology to carry out their violent agenda.

Without naming the scam-ridden Satyam Computers, she said some companies that over-extended or functioned in an unethical manner had caused losses to shareholders. “Such incidents profile the need for stronger corporate governance. There must be clear principles of accountability when such losses take place.”

Acknowledging that India was impacted by the global meltdown, she said its economy, however, had the fundamental strength and resilience to remain on course for economic growth. In fact, the global financial crisis could be an opportunity to reinforce the structures of domestic economy.

Pointing out that the very large domestic market could sustain the growth, she said, “We could even be one of the nations who can act as an engine to help revive the global economy.” At the outset, the President conveyed her special greetings to the armed forces and paramilitary forces who guarded the country’s frontiers on land, sea and air. “I also extend my greetings to the central and state-level police forces, including our internal security forces.”

She concluded her address quoting a line from a Hindi poem: “Itne ooncha uteh ki jithna utah gagan hai.” (let us rise sky-high). “As our Tri-colour flutters high in the sky tomorrow, let each one of us take a pledge to bring glory to India and take our country to its destination of becoming a great nation that stands for human values”.

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