IMPHAL, April 15: The maiden visit of President Pranab Mukherjee ended on a lackluster note as he was greeted by empty streets and hastily erected wooden barricades for containing the crowds which failed to turn up.
The incessant rain and total bandh clamped by various outlawed insurgent outfits further added to the effect.
The President arrived at Imphal`s Tulihal airport by an Indian Airline flight at 4.24 in the evening. He was greeted at the airport by the Governor of the State, Gurbachan Singh Jagat, Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh, Deputy CM Gaikhangam and other top officials of the State on the runaway area.
He was transported directly to the Adimjati Sikshya Ashram complex at Chingmeirong for unveiling the diamond jubilee celebration monument. After the unveiling, the President inaugurated the Tribal Girls Hostel and Amity Hall followed by laying the foundation stones for construction of a Working Women’s Hostel and Tribal Boys Hostel.
A formal function for the jubilee celebration was attended by the President as the chief guest with Rishang Keishing MP of the Rajya Sabha, Governor Gurbachan Jagat, Chief Minister Ibobi and Deputy CM, Gaikhangam as dais members.
The function was also attended by cabinet ministers, MLAs and other top ranking officials of various departments of the state government.
The speech of the President dwelled on the historical aspect of the Adim Jati school and failed to touch on core issues of the State inclusive of the law and order situation, AFSPA, human right issues, sports etc.
“ It is known that the northeast including Manipur does not get the due benefits from the socio-economic policies implemented by the Union in its Five Year Plans since 1951”, Pranab Mukherjee mentioned. He added that a collective effort from all quarters is what is needed for rectification.
Further, he highlighted the various flagship programs implemented from the Centre which assures holistic development of its public inclusive of the Right to Education, MGNREGS etc. “The Right to Food Act is to be passed by the Parliament and all of us has to contribute,” he said.
The President added that there is a paradigm shift and the concept of benefits trickling down from the top of the pyramid to the bottom is no longer predominant and that the Government believes in entitlement backed by legal empowerment.
He mentioned that Manipur has a rich cultural uniqueness but has a special place in the mind of all Indians, because of the struggle against the British. “ In 1893, Bir Tikendrajit defended the sovereignty of the state against the British colonial power and even though he was hanged,the spirit of independence kindled in the minds of the people was never extinguished and Rani Gaidinglieu continued on the struggle,”, he added and went on to mention that the Indain National Army (INA) led by Netaji Subhas Chandra had liberated a small part at Moirang, the first such liberation from the British rule.
Pranab Mukherjee then spoke about the Adim Jati Shiksya Ashram being a pioneer institution in imparting technical education and other vocational training to the scheduled tribes of the State and pivotal in bringing about national integration. “We have a hundred years to reflect where we began, where we are and where we would like to be. Institutions are the strength of the society and the nation,” the President mentioned.
The Chief Minister in his speech mentioned that the Adim Jati School was started by Desbondhu Adhikari, a social activist in 1953 and inaugurated by the first President of India, Dr Rajendra Prashad on May 1, 1953.
He mentioned that the school has played a significant role for development of the tribal communities, imparting welfare measures, educational pioneering and safeguarding constitutional rights.
A souvenir marking the Diamond Jubilee celebration of the school was released by the Chief Minister and a Jubilee memento by the Governor.
The President will leave Imphal for Sikkim at 10 am tomorrow.