Chief Minister's Speech

70th Independence Day Speech

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal hoists the National Flag on the occasion of 70th Independence Day celebrations at Khanapara Veterinary College Play Ground in Guwahati on August 15, 2016.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal hoists the National Flag on the occasion of 70th Independence Day celebrations at Khanapara Veterinary College Play Ground in Guwahati on August 15, 2016.

Respected fellow citizens,

Today we are celebrating the 70th Independence Day of our Nation. On this momentous occasion, I sincerely remember and acknowledge the supreme sacrifices by Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi and several other freedom fighters. We all have to bear in our minds that love for the country amounts to respect and devotion we have for our motherland. For the sake of freeing our motherland from the shackles of foreign rule, in Assam also freedom fighters like Kushal Konwar, Kanaklata, Piyali Phukan and Maniram Dewan laid down their lives. I offer my heartfelt tribute to them as well. Our decision to celebrate the Independence Day with a three-day programme is to enable our younger generation to feel the pulse of our freedom fighters and translate their dreams into reality. I appeal to our new generation to pay reverence to the supreme sacrifices of our freedom fighters because it is for them we are breathing the air of freedom today. Independence Day is every special to us in more ways than one as a glorious history of Assam is intrinsically associated with it. Exactly on this day way back in 1985, the historic Assam Accord was signed. I consider myself proud and privileged to be able to pay homage to all 855 martyrs of Assam Movement.

Our land Assam is unique and unparalleled in many respects. Blessed by Maa Kamakhya, the mighty Brahmaputra serving as lifeline, beautified by lush green sprawling tea gardens and verdant forests, adorned by the birth of Mahapurush Sankaradeva, Mahapurush Madhavdeva, Sui-Ka-Pha, Chilarai, Bezbarooah, Jyoti-Bishnu, Lachit Borphukan, Dr. Bhupen Hazarika and treasured by the brotherhood of Ajan Fakir, Assam stands out as an exceptional State manifesting unity amidst diversity.

Rupkonwar Jyoti Prasad Agarwala once said, 'Biswa Bijoyee Nabajowan/ Shaktishali Bharator/ Ulai Aaha Ulai Aaha Saantan Tumi Biplobor'. He again said, 'Kun Kot Aso Aah O/ Toi Samukhot Ho Thioh/ Matri Pujar Bhag Loboloi Deri Koro Kio?' However, some of the misguided elements of our society ignoring the messages of the sages and even belittling the sacrifices of the martyrs give boycott calls to Independence Day celebrations. New generations of our country however, are celebrating the ethos and spirit of the Independence Day opposing the boycott calls of anti-social forces. Wave of changes is visible all around which germinates new innovative thoughts and ideas. This is a change for restructuring, reconstructing and re-galvanising our Nation from grassroots. Change in our conscience will give rise to a new Nation. Come out openly and associate yourself with the celebrations of the Independence Day. This is your country's independence, your pride and your glory. 'Desh bulile nalage adesh. Swadesho bhubanatrayan -– Swadeshte Swarga, Matya, Patal'.

The greater Assamese people living in Barak and Brahmaputra valleys, Hills Districts have given decisive mandate in favour of this new Government. I being a public servant of the State will dedicate myself with all might and devotion for the service of the people. In order to fulfil the aims and aspirations of our students, youths, farmers, workers etc, the Government will work relentlessly day in and day out. Making the poorest of the poor economically viable, our Government will be working assiduously and conscientiously.

Our Government will march forward striking a cordial and harmonious relationship among the four pillars of democracy namely Executive, Judiciary, Legislature and the Press based on fundamental values. Five lakh officers and employees along with elected representatives of Lok Sabha, Legislative Assembly, Municipal Bodies and Panchayats will continue to maintain a good relationship with the people in general and take their suggestions and advice to bring in visible changes in our State. We also seek cooperation from our Gaonburhas and Sardars of tea gardens.

We are committed to an evergreen Assam free from foreigners, corruption, terrorism and pollution. 'Actions speak louder than Words'- driven by this proverb and the guidance of our Hon'ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, we have set our guiding principles and embarked on a series of activities to make Assam as a symbol of peace, prosperity and unity. These are:

I. Following the motto 'Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas' we are committed to make Assam one of the top five States in the country.

II. We are committed to an administrative machinery that is fair, effective and result-oriented, transparent and accountable.

III. Adopting a policy of zero-tolerance towards militancy/ insurgency.

Our Government is committed to safeguard the interests of each and every ethnic community, tribe and race. To take our national commitment to its logical end, we are on a mission mode to complete NRC update by 2017. With a view to prevent illegal influx through the porous border once and for all, sealing Indo-Bangla border is high on our priority list. We have taken steps for fortifying the barbed wire fence along the border. Even the Department of Border Areas Development will be rechristened as Border Protection and Development Department to give more teeth to it.

Our Government believes peace and progress are two sides of the same coin. Any societal unrest brings development to a halt. Therefore, for creating an ambience of security in our society we will keep working resolutely and steadfastly. In fact, our first budget in Assam Assembly announced a slew of steps for foolproof security in the State. In areas where presence of security is thought to be inadequate, we will construct new police outposts/police stations. We can never forget the sacrifices of our security personnel for maintenance of law and order. In a bid to perpetuate their hallowed memory, our Government will build a Police Memorial. For strengthening the Assam Police, application of modern technologies and latest training is need of the hour. Steps will be taken to upgrade Police Training College in Dergaon to the level of National Police Training Academy by introducing all modern gadgets and modules of training. Besides, catering to training needs of Assam Police Personnel, it will also impart training to the police officers of other States.

Our Government has taken appropriate and adequate steps for the balanced development of towns, cities, char and tea garden areas. To ensure development of all areas of the State, we have already announced a slew of initiatives in the budget introduced on July 26. We will adopt more people oriented schemes for the welfare of all.

One of the prime objectives of the present Government is to steer the State to a new and promising direction by giving fillip to modern, multi-skilled professional education. Education is the most important sector which has the potential of creating a pool of human resources in the near future. The promising and bold initiatives that our Government has taken for the promotion of education in Assam have been incorporated in the Budget 2016-17. There are more than 23 lakh educated unemployed youths in our State. Assam will reap rich dividends if we can harness inherent potentials of our youths. Our Government will take up some reformatory steps for providing vocations to our educated and skilled youths. Moreover, we are also committed to upscale the skill development of our youths for their rightful vocations. Therefore, we are in the process of establishing a Skill Development Department which will embark on a skill development mission on a massive scale. Moreover, plans are on the anvil of transforming the Industrial Training Institutes into Multi-skilled Centres.

However, we sincerely believe that industrial development is a way forward towards ushering in overall development of the State. Our Government is also encouraging downstream industries with raw materials available from the Gas Cracker Plant at Dibrugarh. Moreover, to fulfil the demands of the agro-based industries, more cold storages will be set up in Guwahati, Jorhat, Silchar and other places. For the empowerment of youths and entrepreneurs, programmes like 'Skill India', 'Make-in-India' and 'Start up India' will be implemented in Assam on fast track basis which will help the State to intrinsically associate itself with the 'Act East Policy' and reinforce a 'Brand Assam' image for itself.

Guwahati is important not for Assam alone but for the entire Northeast. Plans are afoot to make Guwahati as an International Trade Centre. Therefore, our Government will take steps for declaring 'State Capital Region' encompassing Guwahati and its peripheral areas in line with the 'National Capital Region'. We hope this proposed 'State Capital Region' will boost economic development of the State.

Agriculture is the backbone of our economy. The weather and climate of Assam is favourable to horticulture. Of course, we have still miles to go on this front. Our Government will implement 'Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana' in letter and spirit to compensate the farmers financially during lean agriculture in the event of flood or drought. We are even keen to irrigate the farm lands and go in for double and multiple cropping to make good use of the salubrious land of our State. Our Government is also committed to set up Food Processing Units at all areas of the State. We are even keen to set up organic industries which have the potential of enriching rural economy coupled with generating employment avenues for lakhs of youths of our State. We are even committed to the promotion of horticulture, pisiculture and sericulture in the State. We even aim at making Assam self-sufficient on food production and will leave no stone unturned to achieve this.

We all know that a beautiful mind resides in a healthy body. Our Government is committed to making every citizen healthy by bringing about allround development of the health sector. Our priorities for the development of health sector have been enlisted in our budget.

We believe in equality of all citizens irrespective of caste, creed, language, religion, colour of skin or gender. Everyone should reap the same benefits from the State which is also an edifice for a Welfare State. Therefore, efforts are on to deliver justice to all sections of the people of the State. We are even committed to recognise all ethnic tribes including safeguarding their interests. We have even initiated plans for identifying talents belonging to Scheduled Tribe communities in every district in the fields of education, vocational and industrial training. Schemes for skill development of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes will be taken up. We are even determined to strengthen Tribal Autonomous Councils. On the other hand, steps have been initiated for empowering religious and linguistic minorities socio-economically. Under our regime, skill development education of the students of char-chapori areas will also get a fillip. To showcase the rich socio-religious Islamic culture of the indigenous Assamese Muslims Ajan Peer Kalakshetra will be set up. We are giving priorities to the development of Buddhist culture and way of Buddhist life. Tea garden workers and their families are yet to get their rightful dues for leading a respectable life in the State. In order to solve their problems our Government will take up several schemes. Our Government is also committed to the implementation of Plantations Labour Act 1951.

Issue of women empowerment occupies the core of our priority agenda. We have embraced this challenge and initiated steps for 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' Yojana in right earnest. We are even steadfast in implementing more stringent laws against determination of sex of foetus and foeticide issue. Assam has earned the dubious distinction in women trafficking. Identifying the reasons responsible for this menace and bringing to end to this problem is also our prime objective. To make the women self-reliant economically, our Government has introduced the notion of 'Gender Budgeting' and incorporated this new concept in this year's budget. Women Self Help Groups will be encouraged for the management of livestock and other micro industries besides giving them loan up to Rs 10 lakh without levying any interest.

We are also committed to the development of the Department looking after the welfare of women, children, aged and specially challenged persons. We will, therefore, bifurcate Social Welfare Department into Women and Child Welfare Directorate and Social Empowerment Directorate. The NDA Government at the Centre has already introduced several schemes for the welfare of specially challenged persons. Under the 'Accessible India' Programme, our Government is committed to renovate Government offices, public places to enable access to the specially challenged persons. Besides school and college books in Braille language, we will take steps to print Government textbooks in Braille language.

Mahatma Gandhi once said 'India lives in rural areas'. Though India has traversed a long way in terms of development, Gandhiji's statement is still relevant today. Therefore, our Government is giving special emphasis on the development of rural Assam. Our aim is to facilitate an integrated development of a village based on inherent capacity of our resources. In synchronicity with Hon'ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi's philosophy, our Government has adopted 'Mukhya Mantrir Somogra Gramya Unnayan Yojana' aimed at doubling the income of our farmers by 2022. Moreover, identifying potential areas in Fishery and Dairy sectors, we will take up suitable schemes and earmark corresponding funds accordingly. Steps are also being taken to provide LPG connections to all poor households under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana. Our Government is eager to usher in a well laid out road network in all villages to expedite development of rural areas.

Though flood is a perennial problem in Assam, this year's flood wrecked more havoc compared to what they did in the past. In order to prepare the State to face all kinds of disasters like flood, earthquake and landslide, we are equipping the State Disaster Management Authority with all modern gadgets and technologies. We consider embankments as means to safeguard our rural economy. There are 1,250 numbers of embankments covering nearly 5000 km in our State and most of the embankments have outlived their utility. Sans embankments we cannot augment our rural economy. Our Government will go in for revetment of existing embankments besides erecting new ones.

Considering the abundance of natural resources, Assam can very aptly be termed as a hotspot of bio-diversity. Our Government has also taken a pledge to preserve this bio-diversity along with its environment to give a boost to flora and fauna of the State. We are really grieved over killings of rhinoceros in Kaziranga National Park. Our Government is determined to save the rhinoceros from poachers. We have taken suggestions from renowned national wildlife experts for the protection of rhino. Besides Kaziranga, precautionary measures have also been taken in other National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Reserved Forests. Adequate compensation will also be given to the next of kin of those killed by wild elephants.

Sport is very close to our hearts. Assam has no dearth of sporting talents. Our Government will render all possible help and cooperation to all sportspersons and will also constitute 'State Sports Council'. We will ensure providing the right kind of infrastructure to all promising budding sports talents. Infrastructure will be built in all schools and colleges. For involving our young generation in constructive activities we will constitute 'Youth Clubs' in 28,000 villages in Assam. These clubs will be force-multiplier towards peace, progress and prosperity.

Our Government is committed to the preservation of all art forms and culture through documentation, digitalisation and archiving them. In order to promote Assamese art and culture, our Government will take steps in setting up 'study circles' in the selected universities of the country besides mulling a plan for setting up of a Cultural University in Majuli, a nerve centre of culture. Our State has a glorious tradition of intellectual discourses. To enrich the tradition, our Government will initiate steps in setting up of an Assam International Centre taking suggestions and inputs from the intelligentsia. In order to inculcate scientific temperament in the young minds, we have already planned to organise 'Science Fair' annually.

Dear citizens, we feel that Assam is on the threshold of a crucial juncture today. We have to march forward with giant leaps to make this beautiful State as one of the most prosperous States of India. People of Assam have reposed faith on us with this great hope. With full support and cooperation from everyone in the State, we strive to march forward relentlessly. Let us make Assam the most ideal State in terms of social security, peace, harmony, education, healthcare etc. All of us can contribute equally in the process of nation building. So, let us all join hands to make 'TEAM ASSAM' and tread on the new path with hopes and promises aplenty.