"The people of India have given the mandate to continue with the country's development journey that started in 2014", President Ram Nath Kovind said on Thursday. In his address to the joint sitting of both houses of parliament in the historic Central Hall, he said the government is moving ahead to create a strong, secure and inclusive India.
The President commenced his address by saying that the government has started a pension scheme to help farmers and small traders live a life of dignity. He congratulated the Election Commission and crores of officials and security personnel involved in holding the general elections as he pointed out that over 61 crores people voted in the Lok Sabha polls, creating a record. He said women came out in large numbers to exercise their franchise and a record 78 women have been elected as members of the Lok Sabha - the highest ever and almost half of the elected members are first-timers."In this election, the people of the country gave a clear mandate. After the assessment of the government's first tenure, the people have given it a bigger mandate this time," he said. By doing so, the people have given the mandate to accelerate the development process initiated in 2014, he added.
He revisited the address in the Central Hall earlier this year on 21 January where he had said that his government was trying to provide empowerment and ease of living to all Indians and said that that is exactly where the present government is heading towards. He reiterated the aim to make India a $5 trillion dollar economy by 2024 and the emergence of India as a manufacturing hub. He spoke of the efforts made by the government to tie up with other nations to promote manufacturing in India.
He said that the current government has a zero tolerance for corruption and hence, the people have re-elected them to power, and will work towards minimum government and maximum governance policy. The use of technology by the government will also increase considerably to promote the use of digital technology among the people.
Listing the achievements of the government, President Kovind spoke about the changing situation in India which was fuelled by the government by introducing schemes for the poor, the farmers, students, police and the army and said that the government created schemes to help them within 21 days of taking the oath of power.
President Kovind said that his government is going green to build infrastructure as they have started to use renewable and biodegradable resources. Urban and suburban areas will see developments as the government is already working towards building better infrastructure. Turning his attention towards the North-East, he said that the government is working towards making the living easy for those living in the northeast part of the country including reforms in farming, better connectivity via roads and so on.
Talking about transport sector, President Kovind said that roadways along with railways and inland waterways are being improvised to increase seamless mobility. The use of green fuel is also increased leading to a reduction in the use of conventional energy resources that lead to global warming or climate change.
Forests and environment are the top priority of the government to be protected as the government has already made progress in increasing the forest cover, evicting illegal occupants living in forest areas among other achievements.
The launch of Chandrayaan-2 along with the proposed plan to have India's own space station were some of the major steps taken by the government to further the progress of India, said President Kovind. He also spoke about the worldwide preparations to observe and celebrate World Yoga Day on June 21, a mark of significance and reverence for India. The whole world respects and stands with India.
The President also pointed out that more than Rs 25 lakh crores was allocated for "Blue Revolution" which aimed at increasing the standard of fishing, marine life, and water conservation. President Kovind emphasized on the need to conserve water for future generations. He said, “In this direction, creation of Jal Shakti Ministry is a decisive step. Pointing out that global warming and climate change were serious concerns that impacted water conservation, President Kovind said that it was essential for the future generation to have water and hence water conservation was the need of the hour. He said that the government is committed to supporting all the states and regions hit by droughts and will implement schemes to ease the situation.
"We must conserve water, it is very precious and my government has formed a Jal Shakti ministry for effective utilization for water", he said.
President Kovind spoke about the government's efforts to tackle the issue of economic fugitives through the fugitive economic offenders legislation The government is also using various other means to contain economic offenses. Stressing on the need to eradicate corruption, President Kovind said, “The campaign against black money will be taken forward at a faster pace.”
President Kovind praised the tax reforms brought by the present government including the Goods and Service Tax, MSME reforms, credit guarantee programmes up to Rs 1 lakh crores, cut in the income tax brackets.
President Kovind said that the government's Direct Benefit Transfer scheme was an efficient way to ensure the government's schemes reaches the last man without any leakages. He also said that the new channel of benefit transfer ensure that names of fake beneficiaries are eliminated from the lists and the schemes really reach the needy. He advised all states to implement the DBT for disbursal of government funds and schemes.
Economic indicators like inflation, growth, foreign exchange reserves seem healthy. India is the fifth largest economy in the world. GST has unified tax collections and schemes have been launched to encourage small industries, he said.
President Kovid spoke about the farmers benefited from the government's schemes which brought reforms to the Minimum Selling Price (MSP), 100% allowance of FDI in food processing, the Fasal Bheema Yojana, health care among other small issues that mattered to the farmers. Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi’ will be extended to every farmer in the country, Kovind asserted. President Ram Nath Kovind further said that investment is being made to strengthen rural India, increase the productivity of the agricultural sector. Another Rs 25 lakh crore will be invested in the coming years, he added. President Kovind said that the government is committed to welfare farmers, govt is trying to establish health welfare centers across the country especially in rural areas. He also spoke of other agro-based schemes planned and implemented in the previous tenure, adding that the government was committed to increasing the income of farmers.
“In the coming year, an investment of Rs 25 lakh crore will be done and by the year 2022, the farmer income is likely to double as the government has taken several steps working towards the same,” President Shri Ram Nath Kovind at the Parliament.
President Kovind spoke about the various initiatives taken by the government towards women empowerment. The sex ratio has been improved in many states with ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ mission. He said that the government has brought in several tough legislation to ensure a safer atmosphere for women, and going forward, it will also ensure proper implementation of existing laws on women's security.
He said, “To ensure equal rights for every sister and daughter in the country, eradication of practices like Triple Talaq and nikah halala is necessary. I would request all members to extend their support to these efforts to make the lives of our sisters and daughters more dignified and improved.”
President Kovind spoke about the internal and external threats faced by India and its retaliation to these threats. In addition, he also spoke about the effective ways taken by the government to contain these threats. The National Register of Citizens and border security issues found a place in the President's address. Highlighting the government’s successful foreign policy, he said that Masood Azhar being declared as a global terrorist is a big victory for India at the global front.
“India has demonstrated its intentions and capabilities by carrying out air strikes on terrorist targets across the border, first surgical strikes and then after Pulwama attack. All possible steps will be taken to protect ourselves in the future also” said President Kovind. "Illegal immigrants are a threat to the security of the nation and work is being carried out on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) while security along the borders will be beefed up", he added.
Talking about the proposed "one nation, one election", he said, “I call upon all MPs to seriously consider the development-oriented proposal of ‘one nation – one election together."
He concluded his address by asking the legislators to keep Mahatma Gandhi's thoughts in mind while taking decisions, that the poor must be kept in mind as they voted for them and the laws made will have the impact on them. He congratulated the elected members and concluded his address.