A closer look at nation building
President of India, Pranab Mukherjee on February 23 addressed the Joint Session of both houses of Parliament at the beginning of the budget session. Adressing the session, Mukherjee said that measures have been initiated to stir action in a range of fields from sanitation to smart cities, poverty elimination to creation of wealth, skill development to conquering space,
President of India, Pranab Mukherjee on February 23 addressed the Joint Session of both houses of Parliament at the beginning of the budget session. Adressing the session, Mukherjee said that measures have been initiated to stir action in a range of fields from sanitation to smart cities, poverty elimination to creation of wealth, skill development to conquering space, tapping demographic dividend to diplomatic initiatives and enhancing ease of doing business to putting in place a stable policy framework. Below are a few important observations and remarks Mukherjee made while addressing the joint session of both the houses.
Financial inclusion is critical to poverty elimination. The government, he says, has launched an ambitious Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana to provide universal access to banking facilities – a bank account, having in-built accidental insurance with a Rupay debit card. Mukherjee pointed that the coverage under the scheme is close to 100% with a record 13.2 crore new bank accounts being opened, 11.5 crore Rupay debit cards being issued and over 11,000 crore being deposited.
To ensure that the benefits of developmental programmes reach the last intended beneficiary without leakages and impediments, Direct Benefit Transfer Programme is being implemented with renewed vigour, the President said. The biggest Direct Cash Transfer programme in the world PAHAL for transfer of LPG subsidy, has been extended across the country from January 1, 2015, so far covering 75% of the user-households. In all, 35 schemes have been brought under Direct Benefit Transfer architecture. Special emphasis is attached to make Aadhar enrolment coverage universal.
The Swachh Bharat Mission was launched to achieve a Clean and Open Defecation Free India by October, 2019.
The current government attaches the highest priority to sustainable socio-economic growth of rural areas. MGNREGS can be a powerful weapon to combat rural poverty. While implementing MGNREGS with renewed vigour, emphasis is being placed on improving quality and durability of assets under the programme.
The government is making sure that particularly the poorest of the poor have a dwelling unit under the Mission “Housing for All” by 2022. A set of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives have been devised to leverage the value of land holding with government and to afford flexibility to State Governments in designing their own customized housing programmes..
Paramount importance is being given to safeguard the interest of farmers and families affected by land acquisition. The year 2015 has been designated as International Year of Soils. In view of the critical role of soil for productivity and farm output, a Soil Health Card Scheme has been launched, he added.
Education is the priority of priorities for my Government. ‘Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat’ has been launched to improve foundational learning outcomes. An initiative to map the entire country on a GIS platform to identify habitations without schools, has been taken. Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya National Mission on Teachers and Teacher Training has been launched to empower and increase the capacity of teachers.
Skill development and Entrepreneurship
India has the largest population of youth in the world. Majority of her population is already in the working age group. To tap this demographic dividend and to bridge the demand-supply gap in skilled workforce, the government has created a new Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship with the theme “Hunar hai to Kalyan hai”. A new “National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship” is on the anvil to align skilling initiatives with global standards.
The government is committed to providing affordable and accessible health care to all its citizens, particularly the vulnerable sections, in an efficient and equitable manner. To reduce preventable deaths, India New Born Action Plan has been initiated and four new vaccines have been approved. ‘Mission Indradhanush’ has been launched to achieve universal immunization with special focus on 184 high priority districts across the country.
The government has taken several measures to empower and protect the dignity of women. To provide complete support to women affected by violence, One Stop Crisis Centres, one in every State, are being set up for provision of integrated services including medical aid, police assistance, temporary shelter, and legal and psycho-social counseling. Another initiative has been the launch of Himmat,a mobile based application, to ensure women’s safety in Delhi.
The government believes in Shrameve Jayate and has taken several labour welfare measures. Apprentice Protsahan Yojana has been launched to promote apprentices in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in manufacturing sector. EPF subscriptions have been made portable benefiting casual workers in the unorganized sector. Under the Employees Provident Fund Act, the statutory wage ceiling and the minimum pension have been enhanced to ` 15,000/- and ` 1,000/- respectively. The government is firmly committed to engage people in the process of Governance and policy-making. My Gov Online Platform, a path breaking initiative, has been launched.
The government is pledged to decentralization of power and as an important step in this direction, the Planning Commission has been replaced with a new body- The National Institution for Transforming India - NITI Aayog. The underlying spirit of NITI Aayog is to foster the spirit of cooperative federalism so that Union and State Governments come on a platform to forge a common national agenda for development, with thrust on empowering the impoverished.
As a result of the government’s sustained efforts and series of policy initiatives, our economy is again on the high growth trajectory. According to the latest estimates, the country’s GDP is growing at 7.4%, which makes India the fastest growing large economy in the world.
While my Government has intensified efforts to bring greater efficiency and equity into the tax system, prudence in expenditure management is also high on the agenda of my Government. A Constitutional (Amendment) Bill has been introduced to bring in Goods and Services Tax that will simplify the indirect tax regime, broaden the tax base and result in better tax compliance. Financial Sector institutional restructuring is a priority area.
The government will expedite implementation of the recommendations of the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission. SEBI’s new Foreign Portfolio Investment Regulations have established a unified, simple regulatory framework. The Insurance Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014 was promulgated enhancing the foreign equity cap from 26% to 49% while safeguarding Indian ownership and control.
Major initiatives have been taken to improve ‘Ease of Doing Business’ through simplification and rationalization of existing rules and procedures. Leveraging IT and use of modern technologies is a key strategy. Single window in a Hub - Spoke model is being made a reality. Applying for Industrial License and Industrial Entrepreneur Memorandum can now be done online on 24x7 basis on the eBiz website. A number of entry and exit regulations have been eased out.
The government has launched the “Make in India” programme which aims to create a wholesome eco-system to transform India into a manufacturing hub. FDI in Railways has been opened up selectively to bring in much needed capital, state-of-the-art technology and global best practices. FDI in Defence has been increased to 49% subject to certain conditions. FDI norms in Construction & Development sector have been relaxed.
Cities are the engines of economic growth. The government is committed to building modern amenities and infrastructure in our urban areas. The National Urban Development Mission is being finalized, particularly focusing on water and solid waste management infrastructure. After extensive stakeholder consultations, the Smart City programme is close to finalization. These two programmes are interlinked and will prepare our nation for an increasingly urban future.
Several policy initiatives to revive the Highway sector have been taken. “National Highways Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited” has been set up for creation of infrastructure in the North Eastern States and border regions of the country. New standards have been set to improve quality of roads, both on highways and in rural areas and electronic tolling has been introduced for hassle-free traffic on selected highways. e-Rickshaw and e-Cart have been introduced as a separate category under the Motor Vehicles Act 1988, enhancing convenience of passengers and generating thousands of jobs.
Power sector has made commendable progress achieving 76% capacity addition by January, 2015 against the 2014-15 target of 17,830 MW. In order to provide 24x7 quality power in rural and urban areas, the Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana with an outlay of more than` 43,000 crore and the Integrated Power Development Scheme with an outlay of more than `32,600 crore, have been launched.
Special attention is being paid to the un-electrified villages in remote areas. The petroleum sector has seen major reforms. Diesel prices have been deregulated and are now market driven. The price of petrol has also been decreased by more than ` 17 per litre.
Water is the lifeline of human civilization. River Ganga has a very special place in the collective consciousness of our country. “Namami Gange”, an integrated Ganga Conservation Mission has been set-up with budgetary allocation of more than 2000 crore.
Stringent emission norms for cement industry were prescribed. Real-time online monitoring of industrial units in 17 critically polluting sectors was started and National Air Quality Index launched. Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) would be strengthened and adequate funds released to States/UTs for aggressive afforestation and wildlife protection.
Terrorism and Left Wing Extremism pose a grave challenge to the internal security of our nation. The government is firmly committed to deal with these challenges in cohesive collaboration with the affected people and Governments of the affected States in a holistic manner.
A high state of disaster preparedness is the key to contain loss of life and damage to the property due to any natural disaster. This has been amply demonstrated during the response to the very severe cyclone ‘HUDHUD’, by the State Governments of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha together with the Central Government.
Government is accelerating the modernization of Armed Forces, with a strong emphasis on “Make in India” in defence acquisition plans. Several initiatives have been taken to expand domestic defence industry, including liberalization of FDI for the defence sector; a new Defence Exports Strategy; a liberalized process for issuing clearances for defence exports; and a Technology Development FundHonourable Members, India’s Space journey continues to make impressive progress.
On 24 September 2014,Mangalyaan was successfully placed in the Mars Orbit, making India the first country to do so in the first attempt. We successfully launched the first experimental flight of GSLV Mark-Ill on 19 December 2014, which will enable India to launch heavier satellites in the near future The government’s efforts have enhanced global recognition for India’s rich cultural heritage and traditions.
Source: Address by the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee to the Joint Session of both houses of Parliament