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President Ram Nath Kovind, on Friday, strongly defended the three contentious agri laws that have sparked intense protests from a section of farmers, and termed the violence during the farmers’ tractor parade on Republic Day as “very unfortunate”.
He also noted that the new agri laws have immediately benefited ten crore small farmers.
In his customary address to the joint sitting of the Parliament on the first day of the Budget session, Kovind said the “insult” to the tricolour and Republic Day during the January 26 protests was “very unfortunate”.
If the Constitution gives us the right to freedom of expression, it also teaches us to take the laws and rules seriously, he said in his address that was boycotted by over 20 opposition parties to support the demand of protesting farmers that the three laws be repealed.
Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu raised slogans like ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’ during his address and demanded the repeal of the three laws. Some opposition MPs were heard raising slogans in the Central Hall’s gallery.
Noting that the Supreme Court has put the implementation of the three laws on hold, Kovind said the government will respect the decision of the apex court.
In his address, the President highlighted the view of the government approved by the Union Cabinet.
Agri policy needs to focus on small & marginal farmers:
Kovind said the need of the hour in the Indian agriculture sector is to focus on 10 crore small and marginal farmers who comprise over 80 per cent of the total peasants in the country.
To provide expenditure support to small and marginal farmers, the President said almost Rs 1,13,000 crore have been directly transferred to their bank accounts under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi.
Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana has also benefited small farmers of this country. Under this scheme in the last five years, about Rs 90,000 crore has been paid as compensation to farmers against a premium of Rs 17,000 crore, he said.
Further, the President said the mission for setting up 10,000 Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) by bringing together small farmers of the country is also an impactful step.
The Kisan Rail, started throughout the country, is helping chart an alternative course by increasing the access of Indian farmers to new markets.
To increase the income of farmers, the President said the government has also focused on the development of livestock as a source of income.
To increase the income of the farmers, the President said the government has also launched a campaign to turn the Annadata’ into Urjadata’.
President on increased minimum support price.
The President also mentioned that the government implemented the recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee report and increased the minimum support price to at least 1.5 times the cost of production.
Today the government is not only purchasing record quantities at the MSP but is also increasing the number of procurement centres, he added.
On foodgrain production, the President said foodgrain availability in the country is at a record high of 296 million tonnes in 2019-20 as against 234 million tonnes in 2008-09.
During the same period, the production of fruits and vegetables has also increased from 215 million tonnes to 320 million tonnes, he added.
Modi Govt committed to countering forces challenging India’s sovereignty, unity:
The President also stated that the Narendra Modi government is committed to countering all forces challenging India’s sovereignty and unity and taking firm action against those inciting violence in the country.
Kovind said after the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution, it has empowered the people of Jammu and Kashmir with new entitlements.
Kovind said after becoming a Union Territory, elections to the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Council were held successfully a few months ago, and now the people of Ladakh are themselves taking decisions related to the development of their region expeditiously.
Digital transactions of over Rs 4 lakh crore done through UPI in Dec 2020:
Over Rs 4 lakh crore worth of digital transactions were facilitated by UPI in December 2020, and over 200 banks are linked to the UPI system, Kovind said.
Kovind said the trinity of Jan Dhan Accounts, Aadhaar and Mobile (JAM) has helped safeguard the rights of people and Rs 1.8 lakh crore have been saved from falling into wrong hands.
Also, over 3.5 lakh Common Service Centres are linking people in rural areas to government services.
President on Vocal for Local:
‘Vocal For Local’ has become a people’s movement in the country, Kovind said, adding that efforts are being made to inculcate an emotional attachment for goods manufactured in India while ensuring that they are of high quality.
Kovind said India’s own Navigation Satellite System ‘Navik’ is enhancing the prestige of the country and benefitting thousands of fishermen.
Rapid execution of infra projects even during a pandemic for Atmanirbhar Bharat
Showing its resolve to build a strong infrastructure for a new and Atmanirbhar Bharat, the government has executed major projects even during the pandemic and ensured their completion, Kovind said.
President on COVID-19 and vaccination:
“Timely and calibrated decisions” taken by the government during the COVID-19 pandemic saved the lives of lakhs of citizens, Kovind said, while highlighting the rapid decline in the number of new coronavirus cases, and the significant increase in the number of recoveries.
Kovind said by making lakhs of COVID-19 vaccine doses available to several countries, India has fulfilled its obligation towards humanity in these times of difficulty.
Two vaccines — Covishield manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and the indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech — have been approved for restricted emergency use in India.
President on Health Care:
Highlighting the benefits of the Centre’s healthcare schemes — Ayushman Bharat and Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana -- Kovind said 1.5 crore poor people of the country have received free treatment of up to Rs five lakh, and as a result, they have been able to save a total amount of over Rs 30,000 crore.
Elaborating on the developments in the medical education sector, Kovind said the number of medical colleges in the country has gone up from 387 in 2014 to 562 and there has been an increase of over 50,000 seats at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels in medical education in the last six years.
IN-SPACe will speed up major reforms in the space sector:
The formation of ‘Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre - IN-SPACe’ will speed up major reforms in the space sector, Kovind said.
The President said ISRO space scientists are working on important missions such as ‘Chandrayan-3’, ‘Gaganyan’, and ‘Small Satellite Launch Vehicle’.
“The formation of ‘Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre - IN-SPACe’ will speed up major reforms in the space sector,” he said.
IN-SPACe has been created under the Department of Space as a separate vertical to take independent decisions for permitting and regulating space activities of the private sector.
President on Kisan Rail:
The ambitious Kisan Rail project of the railways also found a mention in President Ram Nath Kovind’s address in Parliament showing its significance for the government as a service for the agriculture sector.
Announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Budget 2020, they set the service up through the public-private-partnership (PPP) mode for a cold supply chain to transport perishable goods.
They launched the first such train service in August last year between Devlali in Maharashtra and Danapur in Bihar.
They launched the latest Kisan Rail service between West Bengal and Nagaland on Friday. (PTI)