Colombo, October 4 (newsin.asia): Sumitra Mahajan, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian parliament, has said that given the fact that parliamentarians enjoy easy access to people and, at the same time, to decision-making institutions, they must be pro-active in promoting people-centric policies and programs within the national boundaries and also in fostering regional cooperation.
Speaking at the SAARC Association of Speakers and parliamentarians here on Wednesday, Mahajan called for the strengthening the oversight and legislative functions of national parliaments to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Outlining what she is doing in the Indian parliament, Mahajan said parliament has decided to dedicate one day in each session for discussing SDGs and their implementation.
“SDGs are very close to my heart and, therefore, I have taken a special initiative – the Speaker’s Research Initiative (SRI). SRI calls for the promotion of indigenous ways to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the development of a South Asian regional model out of these national models,” Mahajan said.
“The SRI is meant to put in place an institutional arrangement in our parliament to assist members by providing them with a deeper insight into the varied issues of development so as to enable them to play a more effective role in law-making, parliamentary debates, oversight of governance and also to respond to the ever increasing and ever complex issues of national and international importance.”
“On several occasions, this platform has been utilized to enlighten members of parliament on diverse issues relating to the SDGs also, so that they can shoulder their responsibilities as law-makers and people’s representatives more effectively,” the Speaker said.
She further said that the SRI will only be too happy to extend all possible cooperation should any country wants to engage with it for sharing best practices and information.
People Centric South Asian Model
A “people-centric development model” of the kind propounded by Indian thinker Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay, is necessary for the entire South Asian region, Mahajan stressed.
“The 2030 Agenda acknowledges different national realities, capacities and levels of development. But at the same time, it is in the collective interest to develop an integrated regional strategy to implement the SDGs,” she said.
“To achieve desired results let us focus on common challenges that we can address together by sharing good practices, by pooling available resources and by developing regional mechanisms in all areas of cooperation,” she said.
“We have already set up a South Asian Speaker’s Forum, an exclusive Parliamentary platform on SDGs. It has held two meetings in Dacca and Indore,” Mahajan said.
“We need to interact regularly and collectively strive to address the challenges that our region is facing in achieving these ambitious goals.
Detailing steps taken by India to achieve the SDGs, Mahajan said that India is now being guided by the motto “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.”
“Our goals are new capacity of 175 gigawatt of renewable energy over the next seven years; energy efficiency; a tax on coal; a huge afforestation programme; reformation of transportation; and cleaning up of cities and rivers, ” she said.
The Speaker pointed out that in India, there are several shining examples of community-driven efforts specially in the area of rainwater harvesting, water conservation and cleanliness to make positive changes in the ground realities.
“I am proud to share with this august gathering that my home town Indore has been declared as the cleanest city in India. This has been possible only through voluntary public participation, cooperation, and active involvement of people’s representatives and implementing agencies.”
(The featured image at the top shows Speaker of the Indian parliament Sumitra Mahajan)