President Pranab Mukherjee addressed a joint sitting of Parliament on Monday, in which listed the priorities of the Narendra Modi-led NDA government. The President's address began at 11 am in the Central Hall of Parliament. Mukherjee began by summing up the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, saying it was a matter of great satisfaction that they had been done in a smooth and largely peaceful manner, and called them an 'Election of Hope'. "A party has got absolute majority after almost 30 years," he said and congratulated the people on voting for stability and development. He also congratulated the new Speaker of Lok Sabha, Sumitra Mahajan. President Mukherjee said the Modi government's term will be about 'Minimum Government, Maximum Governance'.
Here are the some of the highlights of President Pranab Mukherjee's address:
Eradication of poverty:
The main aim of the NDA government will be the eradication of poverty. Mukherjee's governance will be aimed at improving the quality of life in villages through empowered Panchayati Raj. The President assured the government will not settle only for poverty alleviation, but will work towards poverty elimination.
Education will also be an integral part of the agenda of the new government. Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) will be set up in every state, and sports will be made an important part of the school curriculum. A national Madarssa modernisation programme will be launched. A central university of Himalayan studies will be established. A national e-library will also be launched.
The Modi-led NDA government has promised zero tolerance for crimes against women, along with 33% reservation for women in the Parliament. 'Beti Bachao and Beti Padhao' mass programmes will be also be launched for them.
One of the top priorities of the government would be to contain food inflation. It will also take definite steps to curb black marketing and hoarding. The government is aware of the possibility of a sub-normal monsoon in India this year, and contingency plans are being prepared.
Putting the economy back on track is paramount for the new government, considering that it is currently going through an extremely difficult phase. "We are passing through a difficult phase, GDP growth has been less than 5%, inflation is at heights," the president said. The tax regime will be made non-adversarial and investment friendly. The new government will formulate clear rules for allocation of coal, minerals and telecom spectrum.
With the retrospective taxation issue spooking investors, the Narendra Modi government committed to making the tax regime non-adversarial and investor friendly on Monday, and promised to introduce the GST. Addressing the Joint Sitting of Parliament after the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, President Pranab Mukherjee said the new government will create a policy environment which is "predictable, transparent and fair". "It will embark on rationalisation and simplification of the tax regime to make it non-adversarial and conducive to investment, enterprise and growth," he said. Read More
The government will chalk out an ambitious infrastructure development program, with new projects aimed at developing smaller areas. In the transport sector, revamping the railways is on top of the agenda, including the launch of a diamond quadrilateral project for high-speed trains. In the aviation industry, low cost airports will be developed to promote air connectivity to smaller towns. Though urban infrastructure is under stress, urbanisation of smaller areas will be an opportunity for the youth. A port-led development model will also be evolved. A broadband highway to every village is also on the cards.
Small airports, a Diamond Quadrilateral of high-speed trains and 'Sagar Mala' project to connect ports to the hinterland would be the focus areas of the new government as part of efforts to upgrade the country's much-needed infrastructure. Read More
President Mukherjee said the government will encourage private investments in defence production, and also liberalise FDI in defence production. The armed forces will be modernised, including addressing the issue of manpower shortages and the importance of coastal security. A national maritime authority is slated to be set up, and the government will construct a national war memorial. It will also appoint a veterans commission to address their grievances. The government will pursue a policy of zero tolerance towards terrorism and religious extremism.
Environmental issues are also a priority on the government's agenda. Water conservation will be on top of the list. Each drop of water is precious. The government is committed to provide water security and will launch Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana. The government's Swachch Bharat Mission is also aimed at being part of the same agenda. Considering our national heritage, a National Mission on Himalayas is to be launched. Also, the cleaning and rejuvenation of the River Ganga is a top priority, to ensure perennial flow in the river.
The president also addressed the topic of India's international relations with other countries. The new government will revitalise the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) grouping, revive Brand India on various grounds and renew its ties with the United States. International civil nuclear agreements will be operationalised and nuclear power projects will also be developed. He also mentioned that Special efforts will be made for Kashmir Pandits' dignified return.
President Mukherjee also spoke about the well being of the country and its people, mentioning the infiltration in the North-East, national e-governance plans and the use of social media in participatory governance.