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Farmer, rural and women development key agendas for Government: President at Joint Session

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President Ram Nath Kovind

In the joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament held on Wednesday, President Ram Nath Kovind emphasised that the government will work towards realising their aspirations of building a Strong, Safe, Prosperous and All-inclusive India.

Kovind’s address focused on the various schemes implemented by the Government and those in the pipeline. “In the light of these resolutions, in a short period of 21 days, my Government has taken many decisions aimed at the welfare of farmers, soldiers, students, entrepreneurs, women and other sections of society and have also started implementing them. Initiatives have also been taken to enact several new laws,” he said.

Government schemes for Farmer Benefits

The President stated that a decision has been taken to increase the income support to farmers by extending the coverage under ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi’, to every farmer in the country. A ‘Pension Scheme’ for farmers above 60 years of age has also been approved. A scheme with allocation of Rs 13,000 crore has been approved by the government to reduce farmers’ expenditure on livestock.

According to Kovind, the Government has made the agriculture policy both production-centric as well as income-centric. Substantiating this statement, he said, “An important link in these efforts is ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi’. Through this, an amount of more than Rs 12,000 crore has been disbursed to the farmers in just three months. An estimated expenditure of Rs 90,000 crore is likely to be incurred annually on this scheme since every farmer has now been brought in its ambit.”

Stating further developmental schemes for the farmers, the President stated that the target is to create 10,000 new ‘Farmer Producer Organisations’ to benefit the farmers.

Kovind also said, “A separate Department has been constituted for integrated development of fisheries. Similarly, a special fund has been created to develop infrastructure related to fishing industry.”

Rural Development Schemes

The President also mentioned that large scale investments have been made to strengthen rural India. “In order to enhance agriculture productivity, an investment of Rs. 25 lakh crore will be made in the coming years,” he said.

Kovind stated that comprehensive work is underway for the development of ‘Aspirational Districts’ in the country, which includes 1,15,000 most backward villages. “With the development of education and healthcare facilities and infrastructure in these villages, there will be a positive impact on the lives of crores of poor families,” he said.

Tribal Development Schemes

According to the President, many schemes have been implemented for all-round development of tribal areas. “Work is in progress to provide ‘Learning to Earning’ facilities to the youth residing in the forest areas. In tribal dominated areas, ‘Eklavya Model Residential Schools’ are being set up for children. The thrust is on value addition and marketing of forest produce through Van Dhan Kendras,” Kovind said.

Women Empowerment Schemes

Sharing the schemes on women empowerment, Kovind said, “Penalties for crimes against women have been made harsher and the new penal provisions are being strictly enforced. The ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ campaign has brought down female foeticide and improved the sex ratio in many districts of the country.”

He also mentioned that facilities for the women workers in the unorganised sector are also being augmented. “Self-employment opportunities are being made available to rural women through ‘Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Rashtriya Aajivika Mission. Under the ‘Rashtriya Aajivika Mission’, loans amounting to more than Rs 2 lakh crore have been disbursed so far to three crore women in rural areas,” Kovind said.

He added, “To secure equal rights for every sister and daughter in the country, eradication of social evils like ‘Triple Talaq’ and ‘Nikah-Halala’ is imperative. I would urge all the members to cooperate in these efforts to make the lives of our sisters and daughters better and dignified.”

Today India has joined the league of countries with most number of start-ups in the world. To improve the start-up ecosystem, the Government is simplifying the rules. This campaign will be further expedited. Our goal is to establish 50,000 start-ups in the country by 2024.

 India is now on the way to become the world’s 5th largest economy in terms of GDP. To maintain the high growth rate, reform process will continue. It is our objective to make India a 5-trillion dollar economy by 2024.

India to be Global Manufacturing Hub

Sharing his vision of transforming India into a Global Manufacturing Hub, Kovind said, “Keeping in view Industry 4.0, a New Industrial Policy will be announced shortly.  In ‘Ease of Doing Business’, India has leap-frogged 65 positions during the past five years, from a ranking of 142 in 2014 to 77. Now our goal is to be among the top 50 countries of the world.”

Talking about MSME sector, Kovind said that several steps have been taken to ensure smooth cash flow to enterprises run by small entrepreneurs. “In order to ensure that entrepreneurs associated with MSME sector do not face any problem in accessing credit, the credit guarantee coverage is being enhanced to Rs. 1 lakh crore,” he said.

Schemes to conserve and restore the environment

The government is working on various schemes towards environment conservation. He talked about the expansion of the Namami Gange scheme, which has been further implemented on other rivers like Kaveri, Periyar, Narmada, Yamuna, Mahanadi and Godavari apart from Ganga. “On the lines of river Ganga, the Government will also endeavour to clean up other rivers such as Kaveri, Periyar, Narmada, Yamuna, Mahanadi and Godavari.”

He also adds, “During the last five years, protected areas in the country have also increased. In 2014, the number of protected areas in the country was 692, which has now gone up to 868. To address the challenges posed by air pollution, ‘National Clean Air Programme’ has been started in 102 cities.”

Throwing light on the challenging areas of the country, Kovind talked about the growing water crisis. “We must conserve water for our children and future generations. The creation of the new ‘Ministry of Jalshakti’ is a decisive step in this direction, which will have far-reaching benefits. Through this new Ministry, the systems related to water conservation and management will be made more effective,” stated the President.

The President also stated that the amount of scholarship for the children of Defence forces under the ‘National Defence Fund’ has been increased. “For the first time, sons and daughters of the State police personnel have also been included in this scholarship,” he said.

Lastly, the President stated that ‘One Nation – Simultaneous Elections’ is the need of the hour. “With such a system in place, all political parties, according to their respective ideologies, will be able to better utilise their energy towards development and public welfare. Therefore, I urge all Members of Parliament to seriously ponder over this development oriented proposal of ‘One Nation – Simultaneous Elections’.”

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