President Kovind addresses Indian Parliament on first day of the Budget Session 2022

Recalling the multiple beneficial schemes that the government initiated during the last year or two, President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday said nobody was left hungry during the pandemic induced lockdown as the government ensured free distribution of ration to 80 crore people for 19 months.

“During the corona pandemic, several countries faced food shortage but my sensitive government ensured that no poor was left hungry. The Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojana provided free rations to 80 crore poor Indians for 19 months,” Kovind said in his Presidential speech on the first day of the Budget Session 2022.

“This is the largest free food distribution programme in the world, we have extended till March 2022. We spent Rs 2.60 lakh crore for the same,” he said.

The President also congratulated the farmers, especially the 80 crore small land holding farmers who helped grow over 30 crore tonnes of food grains and over 33 crore tonnes of horticulture despite the pandemic. He also said, his government continued to help the farmers with minimum support price (MSP) buying Kharif and Rabi crops.

“Soch nayi ho to purane sansadhano se bhi naye raste banaye jaa sakte hai (If we think in an innovative manner, we can work wonders even with old resources,” he said.

The President also lauded the combined efforts put in by the administration, doctors, scientists, health workers and even citizens to fight the Covid pandemic that, he said, exemplified the united power of the democracy.

He recounted the steps taken by the government vis-a-vis health sector including vaccination, and said, “Today, 90 per cent or more adults have taken at least one dose of vaccination.”

The President recounted the achievements in the field of agriculture, infrastructure, education, Digital India, MSME, and also women’s empowerment.

Towards the end, he reminded the Parliamentarians that “next 25 years would be spent on shaping up India that we want to see in 2047 when we celebrate 100 years of Independence.”

Underlining the role and importance of women participation in the development of India, President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday said that women empowerment is one of the top priorities of the government.

“Women participation in the development of the rural economy is increasing. In the year 2021-22, 28 lakh Self Help Groups (SHGs) were given financial support of Rs 65,000 crore by the banks,” the President said while addressing both the houses of Parliament on the first day of the Budget session.

He said this figure is four times higher than that of 2014-15 financial year.

Kovind further informed that the Centre has trained thousands of such groups and helped them participate as ‘Banking Sakhi’. “These women are connecting banking services in rural areas to each and every household there,” he said.

Highlighting the schemes introduced by the Centre to help women, the President said that the success of Ujjwala Yojna has been witnessed by all and with the help of schemes like Mudra Yojna, more than 15 crore people have been benefited and around 4 crore people have started their own business.

Kovind also mentioned the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti padhao’ campaign, adding that it yielded positive results as the number of girls taking admission in schools has increased significantly.

To ensure equality between genders, the Centre has proposed to increase the marriageable age of women from 18 to 21, he said.

He said that by brining in a law against Triple Talaq, the Centre has abolished a social evil prevalent in Muslim society, “and Muslim women will no longer need to be accompanied by a blood-relative (Mehram) to go for Haj pilgrimage,” he added.

President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday said that India has strengthened its standing in the rapidly evolving global environment through improvement in diplomatic relations.

Addressing the joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament at the start of the Budget session, President Kovind said, “India has strengthened its standing in the rapidly evolving global environment through improvement in diplomatic relations. India chaired the United Nations Security Council in August 2021 and took several path breaking decisions.”

President Kovind mentioned that the Security Council under the presidency of India held a comprehensive debate on the issue of maritime security. “Under the presidency of India, for the first time, the Security Council held a comprehensive debate on the issue of maritime security. The Security Council, for the first time, adopted a Presidential Statement on this subject, and did so unanimously,” he said.

Talking about the prevailing situation in the neighbourhood, the President said, “We have witnessed instability and volatility in our neighbouring country, Afghanistan. In spite of the prevailing situation, true to the spirit of humanity, India launched Operation Devi Shakti.”

“Despite the challenging conditions, we successfully airlifted a number of our citizens and many Afghan Hindu and Sikh minorities from Kabul. We also brought back two swaroops of the Holy Guru Granth Sahib safely amidst difficult situations. From the humanitarian point of view, India is helping Afghanistan by delivering medical supplies and food-grain,” President Kovind said.

Mentioning about the government efforts to bring back stolen artefacts, he said, “It has also been a priority of the government that the priceless heritage of India should be brought back to the country. The idol of Maa Annapurna Devi, which was stolen from India a hundred years ago, has been brought back and installed in the Kashi Vishwanath temple. Many such historical artefacts are being brought back to India from different countries.”

President also talked about UNESCO heritage status to Dholavira and Kakatiya Rudreshwar Ramappa temple. “My government considers it a responsibility to preserve, enrich and empower India’s ancient heritage. It is a matter of pride that the Harappan site of Dholavira and the 13th century Kakatiya Rudreshwar Ramappa temple in Telangana have been declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. After the Kumbh Mela of Prayagraj, Kolkata’s iconic Durga Puja has also been included in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list,” he said.

Despite the Covid pandemic, Indian farmers produced more than 30 crore tonnes of food grains and 33 crore tonnes of horticulture produce in 2020-21 even as the government made record procurement to match the record production, President Ram Nath Kovind said on Monday.

“I would like to give maximum credit to the small farmers of the country for this consistent success and strengthening the agriculture sector,” President Kovind said in his speech on the first day of the Budget session.

“My government is working continuously to empower the farmers and the rural economy of the country. The government procured 433 lakh metric tonnes of wheat during the Rabi season benefiting about 50 lakh farmers. A record quantity of about 900 lakh metric tonnes of paddy was procured during Kharif season, benefiting one crore 30 lakh farmers,” he said.

Stating that agriculture exports have also reached a record level due to the efforts of the government, he said, “Agricultural exports registered a growth of more than 25 per cent in the year 2020-21, and have reached nearly Rs three lakh crore.”

Because of the incentives provided to honey production, domestic production of honey has reached 1,25,000 metric tonnes in 2020-21, President Kovind said and pointed out that it is an increase of about 55 per cent compared to 2014-15. “Export volume of honey has also grown by more than 102 per cent as compared to 2014-15,” he said.

The government endeavoured new avenues of prosperity for the farmers by launching Kisan Rail Seva, wherein, during the Corona period, Indian Railways operated over 1,900 Kisan Rails on more than 150 routes to transport perishable food items like vegetables, fruits and milk, thereby transporting about six lakh metric tonnes of agricultural produce.

“Soch nayi ho to purane sansadhano se bhi naye raste banaye jaa sakte hai (If we think in an innovative manner, we can work wonders even with old resources,” he said.

Asserting that the interests of the small farmers, who constitute 80 per cent of the farmer-community, have always been central to our government, the President said, “Under the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi, Rs 1.80 lakh crore have been provided to more than 11 crore farmer families.”

The small farmers of the country have also benefited from the new changes in the crop insurance scheme, wherein more than Rs 1 lakh crore has been given as compensation to about eight crore farmers since these changes were introduced.

The other achievements listed by the President included how, thousands of projects have been approved under the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund having a corpus of Rs one lakh crore; the launch of National Mission on Edible Oils – Oil Palm with an outlay of Rs 11,000 crore and special efforts for organic farming, natural farming and crop diversification.

“The United Nations has declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets. My government will celebrate the International Year of Millets on a large scale with farmers, Self-Help Groups, FPOs, food industry and the common citizen,” the President said.

President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday lauded India’s Covid-19 inoculation drive calling it a proof of the country’s capability in fight against the pandemic.

Kovind was addressing the joint sitting of both houses of Parliment at the start of the Budget session.

“We have made a record of administering more than 150 crore vaccine doses in less than a year”, said President Kovind. He said that Covid has enveloped the whole world, and India has also become a victim of the pandemic. Country’s health care workers, doctors and frontline workers have led the fight from the front.

“We are in the third year of the pandemic, the citizens have displayed courage and confidence in the country”, said Kovind, adding that the vaccination drive is going strongly in the country, and India also started vaccinating the 15-18 age group. Precautionary doses are also being administered to frontline workers and senior citizens, he emphasised.

Addressing the joint session, President Kovind underlined that a total of eight Covid vaccines have been granted approval for emergency use in the country. Three Covid vaccines being developed in India have been granted emergency use approval from the World Health Organisation. These Made-in-India vaccines are playing pivotal role in protecting the lives of crores from this Covid pandemic across the globe, he said.

Mentioning India’s mass vaccination drive, he said: “We have crossed 150 crore vaccinations in less than a year. Over 90 per cent eligible people have taken 1st dose of vaccination. Precautionary dose has also begun. Indian vaccines have saved lives of crores of people”.

As a result of the efforts made by the government, the popularity of Yoga, Ayurveda and traditional medicine is increasing, said the President. He also said that the government has reduced the cost of treatment by making medicines available at affordable prices through more than 8000 Jan Aushadhi Kendras.

“Rs 64,000 crore for PM Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission will prepare the country for health crisis in future” the President said.

Th President informed the joint parliamentary session that the WHO Traditional Centre of Medicine will be set up in the country.

Hailing the Indian startup success story, President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday said the burgeoning startup ecosystem has generated more than 6 lakh jobs to date.

Addressing the joint session of Parliament, Kovind said that since 2016, India has seen 60,000 startups in 56 different sectors.

“Our startup industry is also an example of the infinite new possibilities that are rapidly taking shape under the leadership of our youth. Since 2016, 60,000 new startups have been established in 56 different sectors in our country,” he emphasised.

“More than six lakh jobs have been created by these startups. In 2021, during the Corona period, more than 40 unicorn startups emerged in India, each with a minimum market valuation of Rs 7,400 crore ($1 billion),” said the President.

A Nasscom-Zinnov report said this month that Indian startups raised a record $24.1 billion in 2021, a two-fold increase over pre-Covid levels, while $6 billion were raised via public markets with 11 startup IPOs.

The Indian tech startup base continues to witness steady growth, adding over 2250 startups in 2021, which is 600 more than 2020.

India, accounting for 70 unicorns, added a record number of new unicorns (42) in 2021 across 18 sectors, third highest after the US and China, with a cumulative valuation of newly-added unicorns standing around $90 billion, according to the report.

Kovind also said that because of the government policies, the cost of internet connectivity and price of smartphones in India today are among the cheapest in the world.

“This has hugely benefited our young generation. India is also working with great pace on 5G mobile connectivity, which will open doors to new opportunities,” he added.

“India’s efforts on semiconductors will significantly benefit our start-up ecosystem. The government has taken many policy decisions and opened up several new sectors so that our youth can benefit from rapidly changing technology,” the President noted.

Through the ‘Startups Intellectual Property Protection Programme’, he informed, the government has simplified and accelerated the processes related to patents and trademarks.

“As a result, nearly 6 thousand patents and more than 20 thousand trademarks have been applied for in this financial year,” said Kovind.

Nearly six crore rural households have been provided tap water connection despite constraints imposed by the pandemic under the ‘Har Ghar Jal’ as part of the Jal Jeevan Mission, President Ram Nath Kovind said on Monday.

“The efforts made under ‘Har Ghar Jal’ and the Jal Jeevan Mission have brought about a huge difference in the lives of the people. With nearly six crore rural households provided tap water connection, it has hugely benefited the women, sisters and daughters in our villages,” President Kovind said in his speech on the first day of the Budget session.

Stating that his government is also working sincerely for rain water conservation, he said, special campaigns are being implemented for creation of rain water harvesting infrastructure and restoration of traditional water sources in the country.

Sixty-four lakh Ha land with irrigation facilities has also been developed in the country with the help of various projects under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana and Atal Bhujal Yojana, he said.

The President also said that this government has also taken forward the plans for interlinking of rivers. “Recently, the Ken-Betwa link project to be completed at a cost of Rs 45,000 crore has also been approved. This project will be helpful in ending the water crisis in Bundelkhand,” he pointed out.

In the field of rural development, the President said, his government considers provision of basic amenities as a means of “empowering the poor and enhancing their dignity.”

More than 2 crore pucca houses were provided to the poor under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana over the last few years, he said, adding, “Under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Rural) 1.17 crore houses have been approved at a cost of about Rs 1.5 lakh crore in the last three years,” he said.

He also said, under the Svamitva scheme, so far, more than 40 lakh property cards have been issued in 27,000 villages under this scheme. “These property cards are not only preventing disputes but are also assisting rural population in accessing banking support,” he said.

Infrastructure is the foundation for development in any country. The government also views infrastructure as a bridge to address social inequality, said President Ram Nath Kovind while addressing the Parliament’s joint sitting on Monday.

“Investment in infrastructure not only generates lakhs of new jobs, but also has a qualitative impact, enhancing ease of doing business, facilitating faster transport and promoting economic activities across sectors”, the President said.

Speaking on the Pradhan Mantri Gatishakti National Master Plan to accelerate infrastructure development in the country, the President was hopeful that it will usher in a new era of multi-modal transport in India and the railways, highways and airways will no longer be separate and isolated infrastructures.

Kovind said that around 36,500 km of roads have been built in rural areas, at the rate of more than 100 km per day and thousands of habitations have been connected with all-weather roads. “As against 90,000 km of national highways in March 2014, today we have more than 1,40,000 km of national highways. Under the Bharatmala Project, construction of more than 20,000 km of highways is in progress with an outlay of about Rs 6 lakh crore, including 23 green expressways and green-field corridors”, said President. He also said that the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway is also nearing completion and will be the longest and fastest expressway in India.

Addressing the joint session, the President said that along with opening ways for development, the modern infrastructure is also providing new strength to country’s security. Border Roads Organization has constructed a transport-worthy road at 19,000 ft, the highest altitude for such a road, at Umling La Pass in Ladakh. Even the most remote villages like Demchok in Ladakh, Joling Kong in Uttarakhand and Huri in Arunachal Pradesh have been connected by modern roads, he added.

President also talked about new Vande Bharat trains and new vistadome coaches which have added new feathers to the Indian Railways. In the last seven years, 24,000 km of railway route has been electrified. Laying new railway tracks and double-laning are also progressing rapidly. Gandhinagar railway station in Gujarat and Rani Kamalapati railway station in Madhya Pradesh now provide new glimpse of modern India, he said.

Lauding the government’s efforts for its work in public transportation field, President informed the joint session that eleven new metro routes have been commenced, benefiting lakhs of people in 8 states every day. He said that India is now also among the four countries in the world having largest driverless train networks. We have also developed Indigenous Automatic Train System in the country which symbolizes the growing capability of Make in India.

“The government has also accorded approval for the construction of 21 greenfield airports in the country, among which is the country’s biggest airport coming up at Gautam Buddh Nagar district in Uttar Pradesh”, said President Kovind.

“More than 80 connectivity projects are also in progress under the Sagarmala program to connect the country’s important commercial hubs with ports. So far, 5 existing National Waterways and 106 new waterways in 24 States have been declared as National Waterways, taking the total number of National Waterways to 111. Out of these, 23 waterways are viable for transportation of cargo. With the objective to modernizing infrastructure, more than 27,000 circuit km of transmission lines have also been laid by the government”, President said in his joint session address.

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Arushi Sana is the Co Founder of NYK Daily. She was a Forensic Data Analyst previously employed with EY (Ernst & Young). She aims to develop a global community of knowledge and journalism par excellence through this News Platform. Arushi holds a degree in Computer Science Engineering. She is also a Mentor for women suffering from Mental Health, and helps them in becoming published authors. Helping and educating people always came naturally to Arushi. She is a writer, political researcher, a social worker and a singer with a flair for languages. Travel and nature are the biggest spiritual getaways for her. She believes Yoga and communication can make the world a better place, and is optimistic of a bright yet mysterious future!

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