Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President on India to the students of Indian Institute of Democratic Leadership (IIDL), in New Delhi, on 06 March, 2020.

New Delhi | March 6, 2020

I am delighted to interact with the students of Indian Institute of Democratic Leadership (IIDL) today. I extend a warm welcome to each and every one of you to Uparashtrapati Niwas.
I am happy to know that Indian Institute of Democratic Leadership (IIDL) is a unique institution that aspires to create socio-political awareness among the youth, to inculcate and enhance leadership values and capacities and to equip students with necessary skill-sets for a fruitful career in politics, public affairs, voluntary organizations and allied areas.
I am told that the Post Graduate Programme (PGP) in Leadership, Politics, and Governance is a unique inter-disciplinary course designed to bridge the gap between the aspiring youth of the nation and India’s democratic political entity and governance. 
It truly noteworthy that this programme has been designed keeping in view the need to produce trained, ethical and responsible leaders, imbibing the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision - “New Leaders for New India”.
I am happy to learn that the program has been running for 3 years and there are 25 young leaders from 12 states across India who are participating in this programme this year, aspiring to be proactive leaders and contribute to the growth of New India.
I am told that as a part of this programme, you are on a study tour of the National Capital from 01 March to 07 March 2020 visiting various institutions like the Indian Parliament, Rashtrapati Bhavan, various Ministries to closely understand their structure, functioning and governance.
Democracy in particular, and politics in general are the two significant areas of public life where capacity building mechanisms are grossly insufficient.  
In this regard, I would like to congratulate RambhauMhalgiPrabodhini (RMP)  and the entire team behind the IIDL programme for not only identifying capacity building in this area as a critical need, but also for making it a success.
I congratulate all the scholars present here and extend my best wishes to them for a bright future in public life.
Fortunately for you, today the democratic process has become much more engaging and participative than ever. The youth is much more aware of their rights and duties.
They aspire to play a proactive role in the process of democracy.
At the same time, the government and the political entity needs young talent equipped with the right ideas and competencies to keep pace with the changing times.
I am sure that you will succeed in forging a bright future for this country.
My dear young friends,
Indian democracy has proved to be a miracle by the way it has expanded and consolidated in our country during the last seven decades, assiduously defying many doomsayers.
It has also proved to be a theoretical surprise defying the traditional theory that democracy succeeds only in high income societies and have bleak prospects in poor and diverse societies.
At the stroke of independence, India was both poor and illiterate besides a diverse society which was not amenable for the survival of democracy. But the saga of the journey of democracy in our country has disproved all such assumptions.
In the first General Elections held in 1952, 10.59 crore voters accounting for 61.14% of the eligible voters exercised their franchise. In the last General Elections held in 2019, 73.64 core voters accounting for 67.09% of the eligible voters went to the voting booths in the highest ever voter turnout so far.
This ever increasing voter turnout and enthusiastic participation holding mirror to the durability of our democracy is nothing short of miracle.
We need to briefly reflect on the reasons for consolidation of democracy in our country.
Democratic form of governance is not new to India.
Even during the days of GowtamaBudha, 2500 years ago, India had many self-governing republics in the form of Janapadas.
These ancient republics were destroyed due to wars among the kings but the democratic ideas continued to flourish.
During the colonial era under British rule, India came under centralized control of alien rulers and there was no self-governance.
Our Constitution-makers embarked on an unprecedented, extraordinary journey when they decided on creating a democratic republic based on individual liberty, fundamental rights, and universal adult franchise.
India’s democracy is mature, stable and has always shown refreshing capacity to adapt to changing conditions, and uphold democratic institutions and practices.
We are and always have been capable of solving our internal issues ourselves. In the recent times there have been attempts by certain international agencies and bodies to interfere in India’s internal affairs.
This is totally unwarranted and uncalled for and these agencies must desist from such actions.
In a world in which most nation-states are struggling with multi-lingual societies, India successfully built a stable framework for coexistence of twenty two languages.
India will continue to be a model to the world when it comes to the functioning of its strong, vibrant democracy.
My dear young friends,
It is the quality of democracy in terms of free and fair political and electoral processes and the quality of governance that really matter. Nevertheless, there are many increasingly evident distortions in our electoral process which are undermining our accomplishments and impeding the twin national goals of poverty eradication and rapid economic growth.
Two glaring distortions need to be addressed by the political system with a sense of urgency and unity.
The first is the use of enormous money power – often unaccounted and illegal – in politics and elections.
The second is the increasing attempts to entice the voters with short term benefits at the cost of the long-term goals of basic amenities, infrastructure, quality education and healthcare and growth and job opportunities
As young and aspiring public servants, you must be at the forefront of overcoming these challenges.
Always remember that poverty can only be eradicated by enhancing real incomes and creating economic opportunities to all, particularly to the poor and deprived.
Quality infrastructure, quality school education, quality healthcare and other such critical amenities for every person is crucial to eliminate pain and suffering, and to enhance productivity of our economy and society.
Ultimately transparent budgeting, local empowerment to enable people to see how tax money is translating into tangible services, and better service delivery are critical to help citizens make informed political choices.
Elections and electoral processes are the fountainhead of the sanctity of parliamentary democracy.
The purity or the impurity of these processes determines the quality and the sanctity of our polity.
We should not allow the integrity of our democracy to buckle under the weight of money. This vast, illegitimate expenditure the whole democratic process is undermined and the legitimacy of the system is getting eroded.
It is also corroding faith in democracy and promoting cynicism.
Mere expenditure ceilings and exhortations are not enough. Nor will blaming parties and politicians help. Good sense and wisdom lie in applying correctives to address the problem rather than throwing blame.
Holding of simultaneous polls is also an idea worth considering.
I strongly feel that there is also a need for a strict code of conduct to be adhered to by the political parties with regard to their source of funding, expenditure on political training of cadres and their mobilization and other political activities, funding of elections and candidates etc.
My dear young friends,
 As you prepare to take up the mantle of leadership you must make sure that you have the 4 Cs, namely, Character, Conduct, Caliber, and Capability.
Always keep yourselves updated. Read widely and read well. Be lifelong students and keep amassing as much knowledge as possible. Study our constitution well, be aware of our history and be proud of our heritage.
Build your communication skills and constantly widen your horizons.
Study the lives of the great men and women who worked to build this nation and the work that they did. Choose your role models wisely.
Be open and accepting of new ideas, different cultures, new technologies yet always remain firmly rooted in the moral values that are at the core of the Indian civilization. Always protect, promote and propagate our unique culture.
Be model citizens, not only of the nation, but also of the world.
Understand that the profession you wish to embark on is a mission to build a better future for the nation and every single one of its citizens.
But your mandate does not end there. Always strive for the peace and prosperity of the entire world, remaining true to India’s age-old ideals of ‘Vasudhaivakutumbakam’ and ‘Sarvejanasukhinobhawanthu’.
Before I end, let me give you Gandhi Ji’s talisman which will serve as a guiding light to you throughout your public life.
"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 whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away."
Once again, I wish you all the very best in your future endeavors.
Thank You!
Jai Hind!