President Ram Nath Kovind addressed the Joint session of Parliament at the beginning of the 2021 Budget Session on Friday. During his speech, the President spoke strongly in favour of the contentious agriculture reforms implemented by the Narendra Modi government. The address took place even as 20 Opposition parties boycotted it as a mark of protest against the farm laws.
Apprising the country of the Central government's undertakings towards farmers' benefit, the President highlighted various welfare schemes such as PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi, under which a sum of Rs 1,13,000 crores was transferred directly to the accounts of small and marginal farmers in the country.
Further backing the farm laws, President Kovind said, "my government would like to clarify that the rights and facilities that were available before the formation of the three farm laws have not been cut short, in fact with these new agricultural reforms the Centre has provided new facilities and rights to farmers."
He also condemned the farmer riots and the violence that unleashed in the national capital on Republic Day during a tractor parade, led by farmers in protest against the agriculture laws. Stating that the Tricolour was insulted by the protestors on a national day, the President said that the rule of law must not be violated while exercising the right to freedom of speech.
"The national flag and a holy day like Republic Day was insulted in the past few days. The Constitution that provides us Freedom of Expression is the same Constitution that teaches us that law and rules have to be followed seriously," the President said in the Parliament.
He further said that the Joint session of Parliament amid the Coronavirus pandemic is essential in the new decade. He expressed satisfaction in the timely decision taken by my Government that saved the lives of lakhs of citizens.
"Today the number of new COVID cases is going down rapidly, while the number of recoveries is very high. It is a matter of pride that India is running the biggest vaccination program in the world. Both vaccines of this program are made in India. In this crisis India shouldered its responsibility towards mankind and provided lakhs of doses of vaccines to several nations," President noted.
He said, besides fulfilling the domestic requirements, India has also provided necessary medicines to more than 150 countries and is now ensuring the availability of vaccines on a global scale.
President Kovind also stated that Foreign Direct Investment has witnessed a rise in recent times, as the country's economy recovers from the damage suffered during the pandemic. "Even in this difficult time, India has emerged as an attractive destination for global investors," he said.
Further highlighting the developments in the northeast, President said that the extremism in the northeast is heading towards its end, the incidents of violence are declining. The youth that had gone astray is returning to the mainstream of development and nation-building, he said.
"The rehabilitation of Bru refugees is being carried out peacefully. The historic Bodo peace agreement was also signed and successfully implemented. Bodoland Territorial Council election took place successfully after the agreement," he added.
Recalling the sacrifice of the 20 Jawans martyred in clashes with Chinese troops at the LAC in June 2020, President reiterated the government's commitment to protecting the interests and the sovereignty of the nation.