Prime Minister's Office15-July, 2007 14:3 IST
Build a Naya Jammu and Kashmir which is symbolized by peace, prosperity and people’s Power :PM

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh has been conferred with a Degree of Letters (Honoris Causa) by the Chancellor of the University of Jammu, Lt. Gen.(Retd.) S. K. Sinha, in Jammu today. Following is the text of the Prime Minister’s address on the occasion :

”I am honoured and delighted to receive the Degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) that has just been conferred on me by His Excellency the Chancellor of the university. I have received similar honours before but your gesture is indeed very special for me. This beautiful state of Jammu and Kashmir has always had a special place in my heart. More recently, its development and well-being have been on top of my agenda in the Government of India.

Let me say, at the very outset, that I have been truly impressed by the remarkable strides that the University of Jammu has made in recent years. I compliment you all, particularly, your dynamic Vice-Chancellor, Professor Amitabh Mattoo. The steps taken by your University to establish itself as a centre for excellence are indeed very impressive. This auditorium in which I stand right now is itself a symbol of excellence. I commend the University’s achievements in teaching and research, especially in fields like high-energy physics, glaciology, bio-technology and strategic studies. I am also happy that the University has actively participated in extension work, in partnership with civil society, in disaster management, empowerment of rural women and the efforts at strengthening the region’s culture of tolerance and peace. It is precisely this blend of academic excellence, social relevance and aesthetic sensibility that our universities must nurture.

Our country has a 5,000 year old history of the human quest for knowledge. Ours has always been a knowledge society. The challenge is now to transform it into a knowledge economy. It is clear that our greatest strength, in years to come, will be our human resources. Our huge pool of young women and men, adequately skilled, can become India’s greatest force for progress. I have believed that it is this soft power, not just military strength, which will be the real marker of India’s greatness. And I am confident that Jammu and Kashmir’s young men and women will become a shining example of this soft power.

I am, therefore, here to seek your partnership in building Jammu and Kashmir into a robust and vibrant knowledge economy. As a partner, I commit myself and the Central Government to creating institutions of excellence in the State, which can channelise the creativity and energy of the youth of Jammu and Kashmir. We will together build and strengthen a cadre of extraordinarily skilled men and women who are dedicated to a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Jammu and Kashmir. That alone is a guarantee for sustainable peace in the state.

Many new and imaginative initiatives have been taken by the state government, including the opening of a large number of degree colleges and the Universities of Jammu and Kashmir have opened off-site campuses in several parts of the state. Campuses are also being proposed for Leh, Poonch, Ramnagar and Reasi. Much more needs to be done, both in terms of access as well as the quest for excellence. The Knowledge Commission, in its recent report, has recommended a vast expansion of our higher education system. I have recently announced that we intend to establish 30 new Central Universities across the country. I would like at least one of them to be in this State.

We also need to address the problems of the educated unemployed, especially in Jammu & Kashmir. In the new globally competitive environment, it is essential to keep upgrading skills, build first-rate infrastructure in our institutions of knowledge and ensure top quality of teaching and training. Fortunately, with the latest developments in Information and Communication Technology it is possible as never before to create such facilities quickly, and with relatively little investment. We could consider setting up Knowledge Centres at the district headquarter level in Jammu & Kashmir. These centres could be equipped with the latest ICT facilities, be fully networked and offer courses that would upgrade skills to a world class level, especially in the field of software where there is a huge shortage of professionals. Many of these courses could be offered through video-conferencing or through web-casts and other electronic means. Students from these centres would be so well trained that they would be able to secure employment anywhere, from Srinagar to the Silicon Valley. The Universities in the state can be the Nodal Institutions for managing these Knowledge Centres. The National Knowledge Commission has proposed creating such a network to connect all universities, libraries, laboratories, hospitals and agricultural institutions to share data and resources across the country. These Knowledge Centres would be part of such a network.

We also need to revitalize the spirit of entrepreneurship that Jammu has been famous for all over Northern India. Jammu has been known as a city of free enterprise of job-creators and not job-seekers, and we hope that this tradition can be sustained and further strengthened.

Universities can play a vital role in this through a structured academia-industry interface, and by setting up business-development incubators which can facilitate start-ups and new business ventures.

Jammu has another legacy that it can be rightly proud of. All of you know that the city is believed to have been founded when Rajah Jambhu Lochan, on a hunting expedition and crossing the river Tawi, discovered a tiger and a goat drinking water from the same tank. When he sought an explanation, his aides are believed to have explained that the “soil of the place excelled in virtue and for that reason no living creature bore enmity against another”. It is this remarkable tradition of pluralism that all of you have inherited, and which sustained itself even today.

I know that over these years you have welcomed, with open arms, thousands of migrants, refugees and displaced persons. These include the large number of Kashmiri Pandits, but also refugees from Pakistan occupied Kashmir and Pakistan. I assure all of them that our government is committed to their proper rehabilitation and ensuring that they will get equal rights. I salute the people of Jammu for maintaining a culture of peace and tolerance during these difficult times.

You know that the problems of Jammu and Kashmir have been receiving my personal attention. I have chaired three round-table conferences at which almost the full spectrum of public and political opinion in the state has been represented. The Roundtable process has emerged as an effective platform for addressing all the concerns of the people of Jammu & Kashmir. I am sorry that some groups have so far opted to stay away. I hope they will come to recognize the historic significance and the transparent sincerity of the Roundtable process and will join it in future.

At the last conference, the reports of four of the working-groups that have been set up were presented and discussed. We are presently working on these recommendations with the active help and cooperation of the state government. I am looking forward to the fifth report on Centre-State relations. All of us have to show both wisdom and creativity in dealing with the issues at hand. I sincerely hope this report will also address the issue of effective devolution of powers among different regions within the State. The aspirations of all sections of the people in each of the three regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh must be taken into account, and a common understanding reached on ways of meeting all these aspirations. I believe it is possible to pursue the development of a united State of Jammu & Kashmir even while respecting and addressing the legitimate aspirations of the people of each of the three regions.

I wish to highlight a larger point here today. There comes a time in the history of a people, when they are energized enough to make history. For sixty years we have lived with tension and periods of violence, both internally and in our relations with Pakistan. You all know, better than anyone else, the tragic consequences of war, terrorism, conflict and displacement. It is time to make a genuine effort to build peace and create the conditions for a historic reconciliation of hearts and minds in our region. And I believe young people, without any bitter memories, and full of hope and energy, are the ones who can lead this process of change.

Jammu and Kashmir is the finest expression of the idea of India. Diversity of faith, culture, geography and language has traditionally never been a source of conflict. In fact the people of this state of celebrated diversity and lived in harmony for most of the time. We now need to revive those bonds and that spirit of accommodation and mutual respect even while we sit down, in good faith, to resolve many of our genuine differences. My vision, I have stated many times before, is to build a Naya Jammu and Kashmir which is symbolized by peace, prosperity and people’s power. You are all the real stakeholders in the future of Jammu and Kashmir, and it is only through your energetic participation that a Naya Jammu and Kashmir can truly be built.

As I have often said, real empowerment is not about slogans. Only when every man, woman and child from Ladakh to Lakhanpur and from Kargil to Kathua through Kashmir feels secure, in every sense of the word, can we truly say that people have been empowered.

Security is freedom from fear and this is what we wish to achieve. We would like the people of Jammu and Kashmir to be free from all fears about their future. It is only this sense of comprehensive security, within a framework of good governance that can really empower the people. We would like the people to be physically secure and this can only happen if violence and terrorism end permanently. We seek to ensure that the people are economically secure and this can only happen if the tremendous potential of the state and its people is channelised and every citizen has access to quality education and health care. We would like every group to be politically secure and this can only happen once power is decentralized to the villages. Finally, we would like that every community is culturally and socially secure. This means that we value the cultural distinctiveness of every community and create conditions for the flowering of their languages, their life styles and their arts and crafts.

The vision of empowerment and comprehensive security is related to good governance and people’s active participation in formulating basic policies and monitoring their implementation. When power flows to the grassroots and every community gets space, there will be no sense of discrimination. I appeal, therefore, to the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh to join hands in building a glorious future for all the young people of this beautiful state. Our dialogue with Pakistan seeks to end the bitter legacy of the last 60 years, and begin a new chapter in our bilateral relations. I hope and believe that Jammu and Kashmir can, one day, become a symbol of India-Pakistan cooperation rather than of conflict. As I have stated earlier, borders cannot be changed, but they can be made irrelevant. There can be no question of divisions or partitions, but the Line of Control can become a line of peace with a freer flow of ideas, goods, services and people.

The natural resources of the state of Jammu and Kashmir could then be used for the benefit of all its people. They need no longer be points of contention or a source of conflict. We could, for example, use the land and water resources of the region jointly for the benefit of all the people living on both sides of the Line of Control. Similarly, there are vast opportunities to jointly work together for the mutual benefit of our people. It goes without saying that this can only happen once terrorism and violence end permanently. I have said this before and I say it again, real political power in a democracy comes from the ballot box, not the barrel of a gun. We are firm in our resolve to fight terrorism and to end the blackmail of terror in this peace-loving State. We are committed to winning the hearts and minds of all. We will never allow anyone to stop the heartbeat of a peace-loving people in whatever cause. We will also continue our dialogue with Pakistan, despite difficulties, in this spirit because I genuinely believe that there is no alternative but to work for building peace. I also know that the yearning for peace is most intensely felt here in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

My young friends, I wish you all a bright future and a life full of purpose and compassion. May your path be blessed.”

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(Release ID :29167)