No new announcements in Prez's address

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 1/30/2021 4:03:42 PM

NEW DELHI, Jan 29: President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday offered nothing new in his traditional address to the joint session of Parliament in the first sitting in the new year as he rather opted to confine himself to list the Modi government's achievements and policies in the last one year and condemned the violence in Delhi on the Republic Day. Focus of his address throughout was on India's "atma-nirbhar" (self-reliance).
His address sounded like the government has done all that it had to do and now it is time for it to focus on implementation of various policies, programmes and projects.
The entire Opposition boycotted his address to express a solidarity with the farmers struggling on Delhi borders for over nine weeks for repeal of the farm laws enacted in September, but some sneaked in to create repeated ruckus during his speech.
Punjab's Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu raised slogans in the Central Hall while RashtriyaLoktantrik Party (RLP) MP Hanuman Beniwal, who withdrew his party from the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in support of the farmers, flashed a placard and raised slogans against the government on the issue of the farm laws, while Aap MPs, led by Sanjay Singh, raised slogans from the Central Hall's entrance after the security blocked their entry.
FARMERS: The President lauded the farmers for strengthening self-reliance in agriculture and referred to various efforts of the government to improve the life of the farmer, specially small and marginal farmers owning just 1 to 2 hectares of land and constituting over 80% of over 10 crore farmers in the country.
While listing the government's plethora of help to the farmers, Kovind referred to the three controversial bills, describing them as important farm reforms and claiming that Parliament approved them "after extensive consultation." He claimed that benefits of these farm reforms have started reaching more than 10 crore small farmers instantly. There was some mix-up in his figures as in one paragraph, he claimed over 10 crore farmers in the country and in another gave small farmers' strength as 10 crore.
The President went on to assert that "discussions over these farm reforms (were held) in every part of the country for over two decades and the demand for these forums at different fora were also reflected during the deliberations in the House." He claimed that several political parties too had, from time to time, expressed their support to these farm reforms, appreciating the advantages they would bring to the smaller farmers.
Stressing that the government is continuously making efforts to dispel the misunderstanding created in the context of these laws, he admitted that the Apex Court has stayed the implementation of these laws. "My government respects the decision of the Apex Court and shall abide by it."
Kovid went on to clarify on behalf of the government that "the rights and facilities available under the system prevailing before enactment of the three new laws are affected in any way. Rather, through these agricultural reforms, the government has provided new facilities to the farmers and has empowered them.
To enhance the profitability of agriculture, the government is also placing emphasis on creating modern agricultural infrastructure by starting Rs 1-lakh crore agriculture infrastructure fund. He also referred to over 100 Kisan Rails started in 2020 to enable the farmers transport over 38,000 tonnes of food grains, fruits and vegetables.
TRICOLOUR'S INSULT: He did not spare a section of the agitating farmers for riots at the Red Fort. He said the government always respected freedom of expression and holding of peaceful agitations in a democratic set, but "the recent acts of dishonouring the National Flag and showing disrespect to the auspicious occasion of the Republic Day are unfortunate.
While listing a score of achievements of the government, the President also referred to four labour codes brought, amalgamating 29 central labour laws, saying these reforms will expand the labour welfare, timely payment of wages and generation of new employment opportunities. He also talked of the government's "vocal for local" becoming a people's movement.
He said the country has also started emerging from the economic setbacks suffered in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic when the focus was primarily on saving the life of each Indian citizen.
RAM TEMPLE: Surprisingly, the President included "construction of a grand Ram Mandir" at Ayodhya after the Supreme Court judgment among the achievements and the tasks that were once considered extremely difficult to achieve. Among the tasks he listed include
-- Abrogation of Article 370, empowering the people of Jammu and Kashmir with new entitlements;
-- Citizenship Amendment Act passed by Parliament;
-- Country started benefitting from the creation of a post of Chief of Defence Staff;
-- Women's participation in Armed Forces increasing;
-- A record improvement in the Ease of Doing business and now special emphasis on reducing compliance burden;
-- Moving up from 65 to 34 in the world tourism index ranking;
-- Direct benefit transfer of over Rs 13 lakh crore in six years;
-- Second largest manufacturer of mobiles from only two factories earlier;
-- Lakhs of middle class citizens benefiting from Real Estate Regulatory Authority;
-- Not only new laws passed, but more than 1500 archaic and irrelevant laws repealed;
-- More than 2.5 crore free electricity connections given so that every poor person's house is electrified;
-- More than 21 crore poor linked to PM's surakshabima yojana (insurance) for a premium of just Re 1 a month;
-- Another 9.5 crore insured under PM's Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana for a premium of 90 paise a day;
-- More than 8 crore gas connections given free of cost under Ujjwala Yojana,
-- More than 10 crore toilets built under Swachh Bharat Mission; and
-- More than 41 crore Jan Dhan accounts opened to help the poor join the banking system.



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