President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the budget session of Parliament by delivering a speech at a joint sitting of both the houses of parliament on Friday. Outlining the government’s policies and certain actions, agreements signed within the Indian state, President asserted that he expects that the decade will be India’s decade, and the century will be India’s century.
President Kovind started his speech with greetings of New Year and a new decade. Quoting Mahatama Gandhi’s dream of swaraj, Nehru’s dream of creating a modern society, Sardar Patel’s vision of Ek Bharat-Shreshtha Bharat, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya’s goal of Antyodaya, Ram Manohar Lohia’s vision of social equality, he asserted that we the people of India will make their dreams a reality.
President Kovind said he is glad that the performance of Parliament in the last seven months has set new standards for conducting its businesses.
He congratulated the government for enacting the laws against Triple Talaq ensuring justice to Muslim women and safeguarding their rights; the Consumer Protection Act providing new rights to the citizens; the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Act for protecting the savings of the poor; the Chit Funds AmendmentAct protecting the poor from fraudulent chit fund schemes; the law enhancing punishment for sexual offenses against children; Motor Vehicles Amendment Act aimed at reducing road accidents; and the law protecting the rights of the transgender persons, explaining the government’s strong commitment towards the population.
Appreciating the maturity displayed by the countrymen after the Supreme Court’s verdict on Ram Janmabhoomi, he said that the mutual discussions and debates strengthen democracy and any kind of violence in the name of protests weakens the society and the nation.
Thanking for the mandate given by the people of the country, President said we are committed to making a new India.
‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’
President Kovind said in his speech that following the mantra of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’, the government is working with sincerity. Free gas connections to 8 crores poor, houses to 2 crores poor, bank accounts to about 38 crores poor, free treatment facility of up to Rs 5 lakh to 50 crore people, insurance cover to 24 crore people and free electricity connections to over 2.5 crore people have been provided evenhandedly. The government has provided equitable access to benefits and facilities hence winning the support and trust of the people.
On Jammu and Kashmir, President quoted Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee’s concern raised when he was the Minister of Industry in the Government led by Jawaharlal Nehru, in the Lok Sabha: “In a democratic federal state, the fundamental rights of the citizens of one constituent unit cannot vary vis-à-vis the citizens of another unit. Are not the people of Jammu and Kashmir entitled to the fundamental rights that we have given to the people of India minus Jammu and Kashmir?”
He expressed gratitude by saying, “Today, after seven decades, the whole country is happy that the dream of Dr. Mukherjee has come true as the people of Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh, the Dalits and women from that area have also got the same rights as the people in the rest of the country. The abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution by a two-thirds majority in both the Houses of Parliament is not only historic but has also paved the way for the equitable development of Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh”.
The desire of paying respects at the Kartarpur Sahib for many years has been gratified. The Government has built the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor in record time and dedicated it to the nation on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. The 400th birth anniversary of Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji will also be celebrated in a befitting manner with full grandeur and devotion.
Talking about north-east he stated that North-east has an emotional disconnect more than a physical distance that disheartened the people of the region. He stated that the Government has been working tirelessly to transform the situation during the last five years. As a result of these efforts of the Government, by 2022, the capitals of Sikkim, Mizoram, Manipur, and Nagaland will be connected to the rail network. The work on the Agartala-Akhaura rail link is also progressing at a fast pace. He declared the construction of the new airport at Holongi in Arunachal Pradesh by 2022.
The Central and Assam Governments have recently signed a historic agreement with the Bodo Organizations to bring an end to the 5 decade-old Bodo dispute. With this agreement, a complex problem, that has claimed more than 4000 lives, has been resolved. He declared that after this agreement, the Government will spend Rs1500 crore on the development of the Bodo community. Similarly, another landmark agreement between Tripura, Mizoram, the Central Government, and the Bru community has not only resolved a decades-old problem but has also ensured a secure life for thousands of people belonging to the Bru community.
Citing the Citizenship Amendment Act President said India has always believed in the principle of equal respect for all faiths. In the environment prevailing in the aftermath of partition, the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi had said: “Hindus and Sikhs of Pakistan, who do not wish to live there, can come to India. It is the duty of the Government of India to ensure a normal life for them.” Saying that the parliament fulfiled the wishes of Mahatma Gandhi by enacting the CAA, the president Kovind said, “the father of our nation – Mahatma Gandhiji – had said after partition that Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and other religious minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh (East Pakistan) should be granted citizenship of India if they came seeking refuge. We must respect and honour the wishes of the father of the nation. To that effect, I am happy that both houses of Parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Act to ensure Bapu’s wishes come true”. While condemning the atrocities on the minorities in Pakistan, He urged the world community to take cognizance of it and take the necessary steps in this regard.
‘We are committed to the goal of making India a USD 5 trillion economy’.
President expressed his commitment to attain the goal of making India a USD 5 trillion economy. He said, ” Government is making efforts at all levels of the economy, in consultation with all stakeholders. In spite of global challenges, the fundamentals of the Indian economy are strong. Our foreign exchange reserves have reached a historical high of over USD 450 billion. The inflow of Foreign Direct Investment to India is also on the rise. As compared to last year, FDI has increased by USD 3 billion between April and October this year”.
He affirmed that In the first half of this financial year, 12 Public Sector Banks have reported profits. Due to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, nearly Rs 3.5 lakh crores have also been recovered by the banks and other institutions. The reduction of corporate tax and the codification of Labour Laws will increase the ease of doing business in India although In the World Bank’s ease of doing business rankings India has upsurged 63rd position moving by 79 places. In the Resolving Insolvency rankings India has moved from 108th to 52nd rank and in the Global Innovation rankings 74th to 52nd rank. India has improved its international ranking by 10 points in the Logistics Performance Index. India has moved from 52nd to 34th position in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness rankings.
He further added, “The fundamental mantra of independence was a Self-reliant India. A self-reliant India is possible only when every Indian takes pride in every product made in India. My Government believes in the mantra of ‘Buy local for a better tomorrow’. I urge every representative of the people, from Panchayat level to the Parliament, and every Government in the country, to transform the philosophy of ‘Buy local for a better tomorrow’ into a movement. I also urge every Indian to give priority to local products. By using locally manufactured products, you will be able to help the small entrepreneurs in your area to a great extent.”
He mentioned, “India is making rapid strides in the electronics manufacturing sector in particular. National Policy on Electronics has been formulated to give further impetus to the manufacturing of mobile phones, TVs and other electronic devices. The value of electronic equipment manufactured in the country has increased to Rs 4 lakh 58 thousand crores in 2018-19, as against Rs 1 lakh 90 thousand crores in 2014-15. In 2014, there were only 2 companies manufacturing mobiles in India. Today India is the second-largest mobile manufacturing hub in the world. Make in India is also being encouraged by the Government in the automobile sector and railways. Full indigenous manufacturing of modern trains like Vande Bharat and Tejas Express is in progress”.
The speech of President Kovind to the joint session of parliament was delivered a day before the tabling of the budget that observed ruckus in Parliament.