President says a New India in the making – Strong, Secure, Inclusive
NEW DELHI, June 20: President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday said the people have given a very clear mandate in this election for continuing uninterrupted and at an accelerated pace the journey of development that started in 2014.
In his customary address at the joint sitting of Parliament which marked the constitution of the 17th Lok Sabha, the President said the people have given even stronger support the second term of the government after assessing the performance during the first tenure.
In his hour-long address, the President touched upon almost all aspects of governance and broadly laid down the government’s vision, programmes and challenges for the next five years. He was flanked by Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu and newly elected Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.
Among the parliamentarians in the packed Central Hall were Prime Minister Narendra Modi, flanked by leader in Rajya Sabha Thawar Chand Gehlot and leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad. UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress President Rahul Gandhi occupied seats on the next bench.
Recalling that the people had elected in 2014 a government with absolute majority after three decades, the President said the government marched forward without any discrimination with the mantra of “Sabka Saath-Sabka Vikas’ , to create a New India
He said the government was dedicated to the goal of improving the lives of all citizens and providing all basic amenities to the last person standing at the margins of society.
He said that nearly half of the MPs in this Lok Sabha have been elected for the first time. The election of 78 women MPs which is the highest number in the history of Lok Sabha, presents the picture of a New India, he added.
Setting the tone for the government’s mission, he said: “My Government wants to make the people conscious, capable, well-provided and unfettered to such an extent that that they do not feel the “Burden, Force, or Absence” of the Government in their daily life. Empowering every person in the country is the main goal of my Government..’’
He said the Government is moving forward towards realising their aspirations of building a Strong, Safe, Prosperous and All-inclusive India. This journey is inspired by the basic spirit of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas aur Sabka Vishwas’.
Noting that soon after swearing-in the Government has started working towards building a New India, the President outlined the salient features of the New India where equal opportunities to progress would be made available to every person and where life of every person becomes better with harmony binding the people with each other.
To pave the way for the golden future of New India, he said the Government has resolved to make the rural India will be strong and empowering urban India.
The President said that a decision has been taken to increase the income support to farmers by extending the coverage under ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi’, to every farmer in the country and pension scheme for them has also been approved.
For the first time, he said the Government has taken note of the economic security of small shopkeepers. A separate ‘Pension Scheme’ has been approved for small shopkeepers and retail traders and about three crore small shopkeepers in the country will benefit from this scheme, he said.
Turning to the welfare of the soldiers, he said the amount of scholarship under the ‘National Defence Fund’ has been increased for the children of soldiers. For the first time, sons and daughters of the State police personnel have also been included in this scholarship.
Turning his focus to the key issues of climate change and global warming, the President said that water crisis is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century, cautioning that it would aggravate further.
“Over time, the traditional and effective practices of water conservation in our country are disappearing. Houses have come up over ponds and lakes, and the vanishing water sources have accentuated the water crisis for the poor,’’ he said adding that water conservation and management needs to be tackled in all seriousness.
He said the creation of the new ‘Ministry of Jalshakti’ is a decisive step in this direction, which will have far-reaching benefits.
He said that large scale investments have been made to strengthen rural India and in order to enhance agriculture productivity, an investment of Rs. 25 lakh crore will be made in the coming years.
The President said that comprehensive work is underway for the development of 112 ‘Aspirational Districts’ in the country where 1.13 lakh most backward villages were located.
Reiterating the Government’s commitment to make women equal stakeholders in the country’s development, he said in order to secure equal rights for every sister and daughter in the country, eradication of social evils like ‘Triple Talaq’ and ‘Nikah-Halala’ is imperative.
He said India has joined the league of countries with most number of start-ups in the world. To improve the start-up ecosystem, the Government is simplifying the rules and the goal is to establish 50,000 start-ups in the country by 2024.
He said two crore additional seats would be available for the youth in higher educational institutions by 2024.
Touching on economic development, he said India is now on the way to become the world’s 5th largest economy in terms of GDP. To maintain the high growth rate, reform process will continue. “It is our objective to make India a 5-trillion dollar economy by 2024,’’ he said.
The President said the campaign against black money will be taken forward at a faster pace and the ‘Fugitive and Economic Offenders Act’ has proved to be effective in controlling fugitive economic offenders.
“Now we are receiving information in this regard from 146 countries, including Switzerland. Of these, we have concluded agreements with 80 countries for automatic exchange of information. We are now receiving information about all those who have stashed black money abroad,’’ he said.
The President said India is marching forward to assume a leadership role in unravelling and comprehending the mysteries of space. “Our scientists are involved in the preparations for the launch of ‘Chandrayaan-2’, which will be India’s first spacecraft to reach the Moon. We are also making rapid progress towards achieving the goal of sending the first Indian in India’s own ‘Gaganyaan’ by 2022,’’ he said.
Stating that India has acquired a new image and its relations with other countries have become stronger, Mr. Kovind said it is a matter of immense pleasure that in 2022, India will host the G-20 Summit.
Referring to the Government’s “Neighborhood First” policy, he said it was an evidence of India’s approach of according priority to South Asia.
He said the Government accorded top most priority to national security and effective steps are being taken to tackle Terrorism and Naxalism.
“India has amply demonstrated both her intent and capabilities, first through surgical strikes and then through air strikes after the Pulwama attack at terrorist hideouts across the border. In future too, all possible steps will be taken to ensure our security,’’ he said.
Noting that illegal infiltrators pose a major threat to internal security, he said it was leading to social imbalance in many parts of the country, as well as putting a huge pressure on limited livelihood opportunities. He said the government has decided to implement the process of ‘National Register of Citizens’ on priority basis in areas affected by infiltration. Security along the border will be further strengthened to prevent infiltration.
On the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, he said the Government is committed to take all necessary steps for the development of the border State.
On the modernisation of the armed forces, he said India is going to receive the delivery of first ‘Rafale’ fighter aircraft and ‘Apache’ helicopters soon.
“The policy of indigenously manufacturing weapons such as modern rifles and cannons, tanks and combat aircrafts is being carried forward successfully. ‘Defence Corridors’ coming up in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu will further strengthen this mission. While fulfilling our security requirements, export of defence equipment is also being encouraged,’’ the President said.
He said that ‘One Nation – Simultaneous Elections’ is the need of the hour, which would facilitate accelerated development.