India

India President Pratibha Patil cautions on reform

  • 25 January 2012
  • From the section India
Pratibha Patil (L) with Republic Day guest, Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra
Image caption Pratibha Patil (L) with Republic Day guest, Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra

India's president has said the country must be cautious on reform, amid the ongoing anti-corruption movement.

Pratibha Patil said in her traditional address on the eve of Republic Day that in "shaking the tree to remove the bad fruit, we do not bring down the tree".

A government anti-corruption bill that envisages setting up an independent ombudsman has stalled in parliament.

Leading anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare says the bill is weak and should be withdrawn.

Known as the Lokpal bill, it was passed by parliament's lower house last month but stalled in the upper house.

It will now have to be taken up again in the next session of parliament.

Parade

Ahead of the 63rd Republic Day, Ms Patil said: "While bringing about reforms and improving institutions, we have to be cautious that while shaking the tree to remove the bad fruit, we do not bring down the tree itself."

Without referring directly to Mr Hazare, she said that although there were "short-term pressures", India could take pride in its democratic record.

Image caption Indian soldiers in a dress rehearsal for Republic Day in Delhi

She added: "All issues, therefore, must be resolved through dialogue and there can be no place for violence. Negativity and rejection cannot be the path for a vibrant country that is moving to seek its destiny."

Mr Hazare has vowed to keep up his campaign for a strong Lokpal bill.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this week, Mr Hazare said: "Show some courage to bring Lokpal to fight corruption."

His 12-day anti-corruption hunger strike in August in Delhi became the focus of a national campaign and put pressure on the government to act on the issue.

In her address, Ms Patil also marked the "growing aspirations of the people, coupled with their expectations of immediate solutions".

She said: "There is also a growing quest for materialism. There are persistent questions about how growth and resources will be shared in a more equitable manner."

Tight security is in place in Delhi ahead of Thursday's Republic Day celebrations.

Ms Patil will raise the tricolour and take the salute of the parade.

More than 25,000 security personnel are being deployed, with additional security in Jammu and Kashmir, Orissa and north-eastern states.

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