ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SHRI PRANAB MUKHERJEE TO THE JOINT SESSION OF BOTH HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT Honourable Members, 1. In this New Year full of aspirations and hope, I welcome you to the Joint Sitting of the Two Houses of the Parliament with the belief that your deliberations will be productive and useful. 2. Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee had said, "the greatest strength of India is her rich spiritual and civilizational heritageâ€.The core values of our civilization emphasize universal good - welfare of all human beings. The fundamental tenet of my Government isSabka Saath Sabka Vikasâ€“ All Together, Development of All. Within a span of nine months, my Government has articulated and embarked on a comprehensive strategy for unleashing the full potential of our country and its precious resource of 125 crore people. 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, enhancing ease of doing business to putting in place a stable policy framework, empowering individuals to ensuring quality infrastructure, ending financial untouchability to making the country a manufacturing hub, containing inflation to stimulating economy, igniting minds to ensuring inclusive growth, promoting cooperative federalism to encouraging a competitive spirit among the states. A strong beginning has been made. A promising future awaits us. Honourable Members, 3. Poverty is a bane to dignified human existence. Development is actualized only when the last person gets a sense of fulfillment, especially, regarding his minimum needs. Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya had laid emphasis on holistic development of each and every human being - Ekatm Manavata darshan(Integral Humanism).My Government is pledged to work for the welfare of the poor, the marginalized and the vulnerable sections of the society. 4. Financial inclusion is critical to poverty elimination. My Government launched an ambitiousPradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojanato provide universal access to banking facilities â€“ a bank account, having in-built accidental insurance with a Rupay debit card. I am happy to state 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. This unprecedented target was achieved in less than six months, making it the largest such programme globally. 5. To ensure that the benefits of developmental programmes reach the last intended beneficiary without leakages and impediments,Direct Benefit Transfer Programmeis being implemented with renewed vigour. The biggest Direct Cash Transfer programme in the world,PAHAL, for transfer of LPG subsidy, has been extended across the country from 1stJanuary, 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 makeAadharenrolment coverage universal. Honourable Members, 6. Swachhata is an article of faith for my Government. Swachhatawill have an overarching impact on the overall quality of life and well-being of a person, particularly the poor.Swachh Bharat Missionhas been launched to achieve a Clean and Open Defecation Free Indiaby October, 2019. Government has rolled outâ€˜Swachh Vidyalayaâ€™programme and is committed to construct a toilet in every school before 15th August, 2015.Swachhata has a cascading impact on national development and the potential to generate wealth from waste. Sanitation and the idea ofSwachhatarequire changing the mindset of the people. My Government exhorts each and every individual to be an active participant in this mission. I appeal to all honourable Members of Parliament to spend at least fifty percent of their MPLADS funds on Swachh Bharat Mission. 7. India lives in her villages. My 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, besides mandating that at least sixty percent of expenditure be directed for creation of agricultural infrastructure. In keeping with my Governmentâ€™s focus on"Skill Indiaâ€, "Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushal Yojanaâ€and "Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Antyodaya Yojanaâ€have been announced. Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojanalaunched in October 2014, focuses on integrated and holistic development of our villages with active involvement of Members of Parliament. 8. Housing is a fundamental requirement for dignified living. My Government is steadfast in fulfilling the aspirations of all households, particularly the poorest of the poor, to have a dwelling unit under theMission"Housing for Allâ€ by 2022,marking 75 years of our independence. 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. To aid investment in housing sector, my government has liberalized FDI policy; increased tax incentives for housing loans and enhanced the corpus of National Housing Bank. 9. My Government attaches paramount importance to safeguard the interest of farmers and families affected by land acquisition. While taking utmost care to protect the interest of farmers, including their compensation entitlements, the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act has been suitably refined to minimize certain procedural difficulties in acquisition of land inevitably required for critical public projects of infrastructure and for creation of basic amenities like rural housing, schools and hospitals, particularly in remote areas. Honourable Members, 10. Kisan is the sentinel of our food security.Annadaata Sukhibhavahas been one of our fundamental civilizational values. My Government attaches enormous importance to the wellbeing of farmers. This will need value-added agriculture, market reform, use of technology and improving productivity in areas with untapped potential. 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. Price stabilization fund with a corpus of ` 500 crore has been set up for perishable commodities. To address the irrigation requirements of every village in an effective and sustainable manner,Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana,is being launched. Extension programmes have been devised targeting resource-poor, small and marginal farmers, particularly focusing on organic farming and green house technology.Rashtriya Gokul Missionhas been launched with the objective of conserving and developing indigenous cattle breeds. 11. Food Processing has immense potential for generating employment in rural areas, particularly for the landless poor, besides guaranteeing remunerative price for the farm-produce. Creating infrastructure in rural areas to minimize supply chain losses is a priority. A special fund of ` 2000 crore to provide affordable credit to the units in 72 notified food parks has been made operational. Two Mega Food Parks, at Tumkur and Fazilka, each to provide direct/indirect employment to 30,000 people have been commissioned in the last 6 months. 12. Former Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee had said and I quote: "Poverty has multiple effects. Besides impacting our economy, it corrodes our democracyâ€.Inclusive growth covering the poorest of poor from the most vulnerable and disadvantaged sections of our society is my Governmentâ€™s topmost priority. Thrust has been given to streamlining scholarships schemes for students from SC, ST, OBC, and minority communities to ensure timely disbursement to the beneficiaries. Government has set up a new Venture Capital Fund for SC entrepreneurs. To upgrade skill and training in traditional arts/crafts of minorities, a new scheme "Upgrading the Skill and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development (USTTAD)â€ is being launched. Outcome based integrated approach has been adopted for tribal development under theVan Bandhu Kalyan Yojana. Nanaji Deshmukh Schemeis being launched for construction of Hostels for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes. Honourable Members, 13. Education is the priority of priorities for my Government. â€˜Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharatâ€™ 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 Traininghas been launched to empower and increase the capacity of teachers. TheRashtriya Avishkar Abhiyanhas been announced to imbibe scientific temper among students. To ensure access to education in the remotest areas,Ishan VikasandIshan Udayschemes have been started with focus on students of North-Eastern regions. My Government has formulatedNational Sports Talent Search Schemefor encouraging sporting talent amongst children in the age group of 8 to 12 through National Sports Development Fund andTarget Olympic Podium. 14. 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, my Government has created a new Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship with the theme "Hunar hai to Kalyan haiâ€. A new "National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurshipâ€is on the anvil to align skilling initiatives with global standards. Focus will be on the youth from deprived households in rural areas. Public-Private Partnership is being fostered to create skill development models and channelize CSR funds into skilling activities. Honourable Members, 15. My 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 andfour new vaccineshave been approved.â€˜Mission Indradhanushâ€™has been launched to achieve universal immunization with special focus on 184 high priority districts across the country. To create an inclusive, enabling and empowering environment for Persons with Disabilities, my Government has launched new scholarship schemes for students with disabilities. A national help line with toll free number has been launched for those who need help against drug de-addiction and for rehabilitation. 16. My Government has recently elevated the erstwhile department of AYUSH to a full-fledged Ministry with an objective to increase the global and local footprint of the traditional systems of healthcare, duly recognizing that our villages have been the repositories of our rich Ayurvedic heritage. National AYUSH Missionhas been launched to promote cost effective AYUSH services, strengthen the education system and facilitate availability of quality AYUSH drugs. Honourable Members, 17. Women have had a place of reverence in our society since time immemorial. My 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 ofHimmat, a mobile based application, to ensure womenâ€™s safety in Delhi. 18. The unabated decline in Child Sex Ratio since 1961 is a matter of grave concern. This trend has to be reversed. To ensure survival, protection and education of the girl child, my Government has launchedBeti Bachao, Beti Padhao Abhiyaan, which seeks to change mindsets to celebrate the girl child. A new small saving schemeâ€˜Sukanya Samriddhi Accountâ€™has been notified for enabling the education of the girl child. A Bill to amend Juvenile Justice Act has been introduced in Parliament to reform the law relating to juvenile offences. Honourable Members, 19. Shramik is the backbone of our economy. My Government believes in Shrameve Jayateand has taken several labour welfare measures.Apprentice Protsahan Yojanahas 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. While my Government is fully committed to expand the job market and to promote the welfare of workers, it is also committed to bringing in transparency and accountability in enforcement of labour-related regulations. To this end, theShram Suvidha Portalhas been launched to ensure ease of doing business by allowing industry to register online and file a single online return instead of 16 separate returns. A transparent online inspection scheme has been launched. Recent amendments to the Apprentices Act, 1961 have made the legal framework friendly to both industry and employable youth. Honourable Members, 20. Legal reform is one of the priorities of my Government. My Government believes that Governance and reforms are a combined effort ofTeam India,consisting of the Parliament, Union Government, State Legislatures, State Governments and the People of India. An example of this collaborative effort is the reform in the process of appointment of Judges to the High Courts and Supreme Court and the legislation to set upNational Judicial Appointments Commission.The Government is also committed to repeal the obsolete and redundant laws. A Committee constituted for this purpose has identified 1741 Central Acts for repeal under various categories. 21. Maximum Governance Minimum Government is the guiding principle of my Government. With an aim to take Governance to the doorstep of the poorest of the poor in remotest areas, focus is on simplification of official procedures and reducing the decision-making levels in Government by leveraging technology. The system of Group of Ministers has been dispensed with and emphasis is on swift decision-making. While introducing stricter and sterner measures to deal with corruption; effort is being made to ensure that sufficient safeguards are in place to protectbona fide decisions taken in public interest and to inspire confidence in the civil service. 22. My 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. This platform has ensured public participation in decision-making and ideation of various national flagship programmes likeSwachh Bharat Mission, Namami Gange,Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan YojanaandNITI Aayog. 23. My Government has envisioned an ambitious umbrella programme, Digital India, to prepare India for technology based transformation and citizen centric transparent governance with service orientation.Aadharbased attendance system andJeevan Praman,Aadhar based Digital Life Certificate Portal, have shown that innovative use of technology can make enormous difference. Measures are being taken to accomplishdigital inclusionin rural areas, small towns, north-east and other remote areas, opening up immense job opportunities in these areas. Promoting manufacturing of electronic goods has been an area of thrust. 24. My 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. Honourable Members, 25. As a result of my Governmentâ€™s sustained efforts and series of policy initiatives, our economy is again on the high growth trajectory. According to the latest estimates, our GDP is growing at 7.4%, which makes India the fastest growing large economy in the world. Inflation and Food inflation, in particular, are at a record low due to a number of decisive measures taken by the Government. Fixed capital formation, which faced a near stagnation in the last few years, has increased. Capital Markets are upbeat. Our external sector is now far more resilient, particularly with a moderate current account deficit and a broadly stable rupee. Our foreign exchange reserves have been substantially augmented.