“I am happy to be with the Hon’ble Governors and Lt Governors in this Conference.
I have been closely interacting with many of you during my visits to various states and I have seen the excellent contribution you have been making to the growth story of India.
India, as you are all aware, has been making rapid progress over the last seven decades after independence. However, the last four years have seen India demonstrating a new development trajectory.
This new development trajectory has a new momentum, a new sense of purpose, a new direction.
The strong political will is clearly getting translated into a number of programmes.
The administrative skills of our vast, competent bureaucracy are being used to deliver results.
What is remarkable, however, is that we are breaking new ground.
Development is now becoming more and more people- centred and people-driven. In fact, development has become a societal mission.
Our government is tapping into the hidden talent and energy in every section of our society. It is building up a team India engaged in a collective endeavour that focuses on national development.
While the elected governments are primarily responsible to plan and implement programmes, there is always a need for a wise counsel, a mentor, a friend, philosopher and guide to steer the ship of development.
This is especially true when narrow perspectives tend to distort the development process. That’s where your role becomes so very important.
You have rightly called yourselves, the catalysts of development. I am glad you have also shared some of your experiences in shaping Raj Bhavans as catalysts of positive change.
Raj Bhavans are not parallel power centres. Governors should play the role of mentors in the development process.
I am sure that you will have a much greater role in the coming years in fostering change. Change in the way governments deliver services, change in the societal consciousness about critical issues, change in the way society grapples with social evils like untouchability, atrocities against women and discrimination.
Your enlightened leadership can make a lot of difference.
Maintaining a close rapport with the state government, you can be a positive influence on the policies and programmes and guide the government.
Through your gentle advice, you can ensure that the benefits of all the programmes reach all sections without any bias or discrimination.
Through your objective, equidistant approach, you can maintain a constant dialogue between various political parties and create a climate that builds consensus on development issues.
Through your position, you can ensure that the policies and programmes are in consonance with the Constitutional provisions
Through your stature as an elder statesman, provide inspiration to civil society and youth to get more actively involved in nation building
Today, we have a unique opportunity.
An opportunity to change the discourse on development by involving all stakeholders.
An opportunity to change the course of development by focusing on inclusive, sustainable development. We should not lose this opportunity.
You as constitutional authorities have multiple responsibilities. The country looks up to you with great expectations. The people are attentive to every word you say and they are watching every step you take.
These expectations are rising every day and you have a vibrant media that constantly shines a spot light on each of us. The question is: How do we speak, how do we act and how do we carry out the main mission of protecting the Constitution in both letter and spirit?
Each one of you have a long experience in various walks of life. So, I am sure you will be able to create a legacy you and the country can be proud of while you are in this exalted position.
In the current context, you need to be mindful, however, of a few aspects.
Objectivity and equidistant approach should get reflected in our speeches and activities.
We should “live” the values we espouse in public. Empathy, harmony, integrity, environmental protection and academic excellence as well as integrity are key.
The public should feel that we are responsive and are willing to listen to their viewpoints. They are then more likely to be the initiators of societal change we all want.
As we move into the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhiji, we must remind ourselves that among his innumerable, timeless messages, there are two that would be helpful in our tasks.
He had told us:
“Be the change you wish to see”.
Second, he said:
"I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?
Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away."
I wish you all the best in your endeavours in the service of our country.