Corruption is enemy of good governance: Patil

New Delhi: On the eve of demitting her office, President Pratibha Patil today highlighted the scourge of corruption saying it is the enemy of good governance and asked government and people to collectively fight it. "Corruption is the enemy of development, and of good governance. It must be got rid of. Both the Government and the people at large must come together to achieve this national objective," Patil said in her farewell address to the nation.

The President also spoke about the coalition era. She said elections are now bringing in Governments that are mostly coalitions and legislatures composed of many parties. "There are regional aspirations as well. Expectations are rising and the people are seeking quicker responses to their problems. It is in these settings that promises are to be met, duties to be performed, and results to be delivered," she said.

She said the essence of democracy should also be internalised so that it is reflected in our patterns of behaviour. "Negative attitudes spread cynicism and despair, which is not in the interest of our country," Patil said. The President asked people to refrain from being dismissive, insensitive to the needs of others and callous about what is happening around them.

"Stability and success of democracy in India, rests on social harmony, responsible behaviour, positive attitude and commitment to values. The Constitution of our country must be fully respected," the President said. The President said with the region facing terrorism and extremism, "we cannot let down our guard".

She appreciated the important role of armed forces in guarding the borders and the security forces in maintaining law and order. Underscoring the need for unity to face future challenges, she asked the people not to let any divisive agenda take root or sway them. Voicing distress over the presence of social evils like dowry, child marriage, the practice of female foeticide and and infanticide, she said this was causing a lop-sided gender-ratio.

"Instances of violence against women are very disturbing. These are totally unacceptable and must be opposed by one and all. Government, social organisations, NGOs and other voluntary bodies all have to work collectively. Laws on these subjects have been passed and could be reviewed. Also, I believe, passing laws is not enough by itself. There has to be a social effort for creating awareness, beginning with the family, so that young minds imbibe the right values," she said.

Patil also underpinned the importance of making people aware of the ill-effects of drug abuse and alcoholism which is a cause of disharmony in the family. "There are too many cases of people getting trapped into an unending cycle of debt and poverty due to these addictions. This is especially so when it involves the poor. When citizens stand up against social malpractices, they become the messengers of change.

"They must get the support of Government and society. This will give a more active thrust to this fight against social evils and to build a more compassionate society at all levels," the President said. She said farmers also need to be empowered and their bargaining abilities enhanced. Patil, who hails from Nadgaon village of Jalgaon district of Maharashtra, is the first woman to occupy the top office on July 25, 2007. Former Finance Minister and President-elect Pranab Mukherjee will be administered the oath of office as the country`s 13th President tomorrow.