Following is the text of the President Shri Pranab Mukherjee’s
address to Parliament.
1. I welcome you to this session
as I address this joint sitting of the two Houses for the first time as
President. I hope this session will be productive and useful.
2. As I speak to you, I am aware
that an aspirational India is emerging, an India that demands more
opportunities, greater choices, better infrastructure, and enhanced safety and
security. Our youth, our greatest national asset, are a confident and courageous
lot. I have no doubt that their passion, energy and enterprise will take India
to new heights.
3. Amidst these aspirations, we
are also burdened by gathering anxieties about economic slowdown, job security
and employment prospects. People are concerned about the security of our women
and children. They are also anxious about timely delivery of their entitlements
and about persisting social and economic inequality.
4. The past year has been a very
difficult one for the global economy. Europe is in recession. Most emerging
markets are growing very slowly. It has been a difficult year for India also.
Both global and domestic factors have affected our growth. We need to address
the impact of both. My Government has responded to the situation by taking
several measures to revive investment activity and investor sentiment.
5. An important initiative that my
Government has taken recently is the rollout of the Direct Benefits Transfer
system. This would enable Government sponsored benefits such as scholarships,
pensions and maternity benefits to flow directly into the accounts of
beneficiaries, who can access them using their Aadhaar number. In due course,
the Direct Benefits Transfer System will also cover wages and subsidies on food
and LPG. This system will help cut down leakages, bring millions of people into
the financial system and lead to better targeting of beneficiaries. It will be a
trend-setter in the use of modern technology to bring benefits to our poorest
citizens, especially in rural areas. However, the Direct Benefits Transfer
System will not be a substitute for public services and will be complementary to
the Public Distribution System.
6. The average annual growth rate
of GDP in the 11th Plan, which concluded last year, was 8%. A notable feature of
the Plan was the progress towards achieving inclusiveness with a faster decline
in poverty than in the previous decade. The National Development Council has
recently adopted the 12th Five Year Plan, which further sharpens the focus on
faster, more inclusive and sustainable growth. The 12th Plan recognises that
growth outcomes will depend upon the extent to which we are able to take some
difficult decisions. The Plan proposes to consolidate Centrally Sponsored
Schemes into a smaller number and increase their flexibility. This will give
States the much- needed freedom to experiment and innovate.
7. The Indian economy is currently
experiencing slower growth. Real GDP grew by 5.4% in the first half of the
current fiscal year. This is significantly lower than the average of around 8%
in the last decade. Our slower growth is the consequence of a combination of
global and domestic factors. My Government is taking steps to deal with the
factors responsible for the slowdown. Inflation is easing gradually but is still
8. In recent months, there have
been positive developments too. There has been a moderation in core inflation
and recovery in growth is likely. Policy measures announced during the year have
also restored optimism at home and abroad.
9. My Government has announced a
roadmap for fiscal consolidation by containing the current year’s fiscal
deficit at 5.3% of the GDP. The Government is also working with State
Governments to reach a consensus on the Goods and Services Tax.
10. There is reason for cheer on
the agricultural front. The growth in agriculture and allied sectors during the
11th plan was 3.7% compared to 2.4% in the 10th Plan.
11. I am proud to mention that
relentless efforts of farmers coupled with conducive policies of the Government,
have resulted in record foodgrain production for two consecutive years with last
year achieving a peak of 260 million tons. This year, despite erratic and
deficient rainfall, it is projected that we will produce more than 250 million
tons of foodgrains.
12. Our foodgrains position is,
therefore, comfortable. The total stock of foodgrains with the public sector
agencies was 662 lakh tons on 1st February 2013, including 307 lakh tons of
wheat and over 353 lakh tons of rice. My Government is committed to enacting the
National Food Security Bill, having received the recommendations of the Standing
13. Several specific initiatives
have been undertaken under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna. Sugarcane and
cotton production have touched record levels in 2011-12.
14. My Government will continue to
lay emphasis on the development of rainfed and degraded areas during the 12th
Five Year Plan. An outlay of ` 29,296 crore has been earmarked under the
Integrated Watershed Management Programme during the plan period.
15. Horticulture production
reached an all-time high of 251 million tons during 2011-12. The year 2012-13
has been declared as the ‘Year of Horticulture’. A National Centre for Cold
Chain Development has been constituted to give a fillip to the cold chain
16. With 128 million tons of milk
production in 2011-12, India continues to be the largest producer of milk in the
world. In order to meet the rapidly growing demand for milk, the Government has
approved the National Dairy Plan Phase-I, which will help meet the projected
national demand of 150 million tons of milk by 2016-17.
17. To give a further boost to
food processing, my Government has launched the National Mission on Food
Processing. Construction of godowns is being promoted under Public Private
Partnership mode. Storage capacity of about 181 lakh tons will be created over
the next two years across the country with additional storage space of 5.4 lakh
tons in the North East.
18. The recently approved New
Investment Policy for urea is expected to create nearly 100 lakh MT of
additional production capacity in urea by 2017, making the country self reliant
19. Around 34 lakh hectares of
irrigation potential was created under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit
Programme during the 11th Plan. During the 12th Plan, an additional 87 lakh
hectares of irrigation potential is planned to be created under the Programme.
The New National Water Policy adopted recently by the National Water Resources
Council emphasizes efficient use of water and the need to align planning for
water resources with the challenges of climate change, equity, social justice
20. The Mahatma Gandhi National
Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme continues to break new ground in my
Government’s effort to provide work to those who seek employment during times
of hardship. Around 5 crore households were provided employment under the scheme
21. In order to make available
improved housing for the rural poor, the Government has substantially enhanced
the assistance under Indira Awas Yojana by increasing it from `45,000 to `70,000
per unit in plain areas and from `48,500 to `75,000 per unit in hilly and
difficult areas including Left Wing Extremism affected areas.
22. My Government has recently
introduced important official amendments to the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation
and Resettlement Bill. I am confident that the law will be enacted.
23. The next phase of the
Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission is being finalized. Meanwhile, the tenure
of the current Mission has been extended until March 2014 for completion of
ongoing projects and for sanction of new projects so as to maintain the momentum
of development of urban infrastructure. In order to give a push to capacity
building efforts of Urban Local Bodies, the Government has decided to create a
separate fund of ` 1,000 crore.
24. My Government proposes to
extend the Rajiv Awas Yojana to all small and medium towns, with a target of one
million houses in the 12th Plan.
25. My Government is giving
priority to addressing the problem of contamination of sources of drinking
water. During 2012-13, 5% of the National Rural Drinking Water Programme Fund
has been earmarked for allocation to States facing this problem. A Rural Water
Supply & Sanitation Project for Low Income States, estimated at nearly `5000
crore, is being developed with the help of the World Bank to assist States that
are lagging behind in the coverage of piped water supply.
26. Recognising its crucial role
in reducing the burden of disease, my Government has accorded increased priority
to rural sanitation. The Total Sanitation Campaign has been modified in the form
of the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan with the goal of providing access to sanitation for
all rural households by the year 2022.
27. My Government has recently
increased the pension for widows and disabled beneficiaries under the Indira
Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme and Indira Gandhi National Disability
Pension Scheme from `200 to `300 per month. On attaining the age of 80 years,
beneficiaries of both the schemes now migrate to Indira Gandhi National Old Age
Pension Scheme where they get a pension of `500 per month.
28. With a view to recognizing the
contribution of street vendors and ensuring uniformity in the legal framework
for street vending across States, the “Street Vendors (Protection of
Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, 2012” has been introduced
29. Under the Scheduled Tribes and
Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, more
than 32 lakh claims have been filed and nearly 13 lakh titles have been
30. To ensure the educational
empowerment of minority communities, my Government is implementing three
scholarship schemes, with 30% of the funds in each scheme earmarked for girl
students. An amount of over ` 880 crore has been disbursed as scholarships to
more than 55 lakh students till 31 December in 2012-13. To encourage students
belonging to minority communities to take up higher studies, an amount of `66
crore has been released under the Maulana Azad National Fellowship Scheme. The
Wakf Act is being amended and Wakf Development Corporation will be set up for
development and protection of Wakf properties.
31. Under Prime Minister’s New
15 Point Programme, the effort is to ensure that 15% of the targets and outlays
of the identified schemes benefit the minority communities. For financial
inclusion, the flow of priority sector credit to minorities at the national
level during 2012-13 reached `1,71,960 crore as on 30/9/2012, which was more
than 15% of the total priority sector lending.
32. As promised by my predecessor
last year, a new Bill for the elimination of manual scavenging and
rehabilitation of manual scavengers was introduced in the Lok Sabha in September
33. A centrally sponsored
scholarship scheme has been introduced for Scheduled Caste students studying in
classes IX and X. It is expected to benefit about 40 lakh students.
34. My Government has created a
separate Department of Disability Affairs. The Government recently launched the
Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship for students with disabilities to enable them
to pursue higher education.
35. For holistic development of
children, the Government has approved the restructuring and strengthening of the
Integrated Child Development Scheme during the 12th Plan with a total outlay of
36. My Government has enacted a
path-breaking legislation, the ‘Protection of Children from Sexual Offences
Act’, which provides for stringent punishment for persons who commit or abet
37. For ensuring a safe and secure
environment for women in work places, the Government introduced the Sexual
Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill,
2012 in Parliament. The Bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha. My Government is
also deeply concerned about incidents of sexual offences against women. After
considering the recommendations of the Justice J.S. Verma Committee, the
Government has promulgated an ordinance, amending the criminal law to provide
for stringent punishment for heinous sexual offences against women. The
Government has also begun to implement a series of administrative measures to
improve the safety and security of women in the country.
38. The National Mission for
Empowerment of Women will implement a pilot project in public hospitals in 100
districts, called “One Stop Crisis Centre”, a specialized facility for
providing all necessary services for women subjected to violence.
39. The Mid-day Meal Programme
today covers around 11 crore children in over 12 lakh schools. Several new
initiatives have been taken by the Government to make it more effective. My
Government is committed to expanding coverage under this programme to
pre-primary schools in a progressive manner.
40. My Government is considering a
strategic shift in central funding to states for higher education through a new
programme called the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan. This programme will
encourage states to develop comprehensive higher education plans in an
integrated manner to address the issues of expansion, equity and excellence.
41. My Government has taken major
strides in accelerating our skill development efforts. The number of ITIs that
stood at 5114 in 2006-07, more than doubled to 10,344 by the end of 2012.
42. In January 2013, we completed
two years without detection of even a single case of wild polio-virus. This is
the longest polio-free period in the country ever since eradication efforts were
43. In health infrastructure, over
43,500 new construction and up-gradation works of health facilities were taken
up in the period 2005-06 to 2012-13 and nearly 70,000 additional beds have been
added in Government health institutions. During the same period, around 1.45
lakh medicare staff has been added in various States under the National Rural
44. To overcome the shortage of
nursing staff, Government has sanctioned over 200 nursing schools in remote and
under-served districts in the last two years. To increase the availability of
doctors and specialists, several reforms were initiated, resulting in a record
increase of 46% MBBS seats and 70% Post Graduate seats in the last five years.
An overarching National Health Mission, covering both rural and urban areas, is
45. Over 1.1 crore women benefited
from the Janani Suraksha Yojana during 2011-12. Under the Janani Sishu Suraksha
Karyakram, pregnant women are entitled to absolutely free care in public health
46. To further improve child
health, my Government has launched the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram for
screening of children below 18 years for 30 different types of diseases,
disorders, deficiencies and disabilities. This national initiative will
eventually cover around 270 million children across the country.
47. Due to efforts of the
Government, there have been significant reductions in Maternal Mortality Rate,
Infant Mortality Rate and Total Fertility Rate in recent years. Life expectancy
at birth has increased from 61.9 years in the period 1996-2000 to 66.1 years in
the period 2006-2010.
48. The National AIDS Control
Programme has been recognized globally as a success story. The programme has
reduced annual new HIV infections by 57% in the last decade. Adult HIV
prevalence has decreased from 0.40% in 2000 to 0.27% in 2011.
49. Since the launch of the
Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, more than 3.35 crore smart cards have been
issued and more than 43.26 lakh persons have availed hospitalization facility
under the scheme. This insurance scheme has been extended to building and other
construction workers, street vendors, beedi workers and other categories.
50. Lack of adequate and quality
infrastructure is a major hurdle in the fast growth of our economy. Therefore,
it is imperative that the infrastructure deficit is overcome and adequate
investment takes place. Government has taken two major steps to ensure that
impediments in this area are eliminated.
51. The first is setting up of the
Cabinet Committee on Investment to expedite decisions on approvals and
clearances for implementation of projects. The second is the creation of
Infrastructure Debt Funds to raise low-cost, long-term resources for refinancing
52. My Government remains
committed to increasing the share of manufacturing to 25% of GDP and creating
100 million jobs within a decade. Under the National Manufacturing Policy, 12
National Investment & Manufacturing Zones stand notified, 8 of them along
the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor and 4 others at Nagpur, Tumkur, Chittor and
Medak. The Government has also liberalized the FDI policy in single-brand and
multi-brand retail trading, air transport services, power exchanges and the
broadcasting sector. The E-Biz project has been launched to serve as a 24x7
online single window system for providing services to investors and businesses.
53. The National Electric Mobility
Mission Plan – 2020 has been prepared. It envisages a roadmap for facilitating
manufacture of electric and hybrid vehicles that are environment friendly and
reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
54. My Government has notified the
National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy-2012 to ensure availability of essential
medicines at affordable prices even while providing sufficient opportunity for
innovation and competition to support the growth of the industry. Six new
National Institutes of Pharmaceutical Education & Research at Hyderabad,
Gandhinagar, Hajipur, Kolkata, Guwahati and Raebareli have started functioning.
55. My Government has taken
effective measures to incentivize exports and provide support to labour
intensive sectors. India became the largest exporter of rice in 2012-13.
56. With a view to providing
further support to handloom weavers, the Government is considering a scheme for
concessional credit for the handloom sector to benefit about 10 lakh handloom
57. To promote Micro, Small &
Medium Enterprises, 20% of all Government procurement is required to be from
Micro & Small Enterprises. The Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock
Exchange launched Small and Medium Enterprises exchange platforms in 2012,
making access to capital markets easier.
58. As a major step forward in
reforming our banking sector, the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2012 was passed
by both the Houses of Parliament in December, 2012. The Government amended the
Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 for more effective prevention of money
59. Pursuing the Budget
announcement of 2012-13, Government has notified the Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings
Scheme for first-time retail investors. Through the disinvestment policy, we
have broad-based people's ownership of Government enterprises.
60. The tourism sector contributes
substantially to the country’s foreign exchange earnings, which during 2012
were estimated at `94,487 crore, a growth of over 21% over the previous year.
Foreign tourist arrivals in India in 2012 were estimated at 6.65 million.
61. India is the ninth largest
civil aviation market in the world. Kolkata and Chennai Airports now have new
terminals. My Government has given ‘in-principle’ approval for setting up a
greenfield airport at Aranmula in Kerala, apart from airports at Navi Mumbai,
Mopa and Kannur.
62. The Dedicated Freight Corridor
project is an ambitious mega project connecting our Eastern and Western Coasts
with the interiors of the country and will cover 3300 km of railway track.
Construction of over 1000 km route length is expected to begin shortly.
63. A state of the art Coach
Production Facility at Raebareli has been commissioned for producing modern
stainless steel coaches. Innovative approaches under the PPP mode are being
launched for first- and-last-mile projects and development of railway stations.
Construction of the Banihal-Qazigund tunnel in Jammu & Kashmir has been
completed and work on starting train services is in progress.
64. In 2012-13, 2600 km of roads
are expected to be constructed and contracts for 3000 km of new roads are
expected to be awarded. A new approach to road construction, the EPC mode, has
been put in place. This will ensure significant cost and time savings compared
to traditional contracting methods. A length of 2900 km of highways will be put
under the Operate, Maintain and Transfer system, which will improve road
maintenance. To improve connectivity from Kashmir Valley to Kargil-Ladakh
region, a tunnel of 6.5 km has already been approved and another tunnel of 13 km
is planned. This would ensure all weather connectivity.
65. In 2012-13, 42 PPP port
projects have been targeted for award, involving an additional capacity of 251
Million Tonnes Per Annum with an investment of `14,770 crore in 2012-13. The
Government proposes to establish two new major ports, one at Sagar Island in
West Bengal and the other in Andhra Pradesh with a total additional capacity of
around 100 Million Tonnes Per Annum.
66. A number of steps such as
technology development & modernization and development of new coal blocks by
engaging Mine Developer and Operator have been taken to improve the productivity
of Coal India Limited (CIL). After resolving pending issues, 46 Fuel Supply
Agreements were signed by CIL with power utilities. Following the notification
of the new Auction by Competitive Bidding Rules, my Government is in the process
of allocation of 17 coal blocks to Government companies, as a first step.
67. My Government has taken
important steps to harness our mineral resources. Geological Survey of India has
planned to complete the geophysical and geochemical mapping of highly promising
5.71 lakh square km area during the 12th Plan. For developing deep sea mineral
exploration capability, an Ocean Going Research Vessel is likely to be
commissioned in 2013.
68. In the 11th Plan, 54,964 MW of
electricity generation capacity has been added which is about two & half
times the capacity added during the 10th Plan. The total installed capacity
stood at about 2 lakh MW at the end of the 11th Plan. To meet the projected
demand by the end of the 12th Plan, the targeted capacity addition in the Plan
is 88,537 MW.
69. Under Rajiv Gandhi Gramin
Vidyutikaran Yojana, more than one lakh un-electrified villages have been
electrified. Nearly 2,85,000 villages have been intensively electrified and free
electricity connections given to more than 2 crore BPL households.
70. A scheme for financial
restructuring of state owned distribution companies has been notified by the
Government of India to enable their turnaround and long-term viability. This
would help settle loans worth more than `1.85 lakh crore that the power
utilities owe to financial institutions.
71. Through suitable policy
interventions, my Government is targeting significant reduction of our
dependence on imported oil and gas which is presently more than 75% of our
72. Renewable energy has to play
an expanding role in achieving energy security in the years ahead. The country
has an installed capacity of over 26,400 MW from various renewable energy
sources, which is over 12% of the country's total power generation capacity.
73. My Government’s reform
measures and proactive policies, as well as active participation by the private
sector have resulted in an unprecedented growth of the telecom sector. With more
than 935 million telephone connections, the Indian telecom network is the second
largest in the world. Tele-density was 76.75% in October, 2012 with rural tele-density
crossing 40%. The Government approved the National Telecom Policy-2012 which
lays down the vision and strategic direction for the telecom sector. Two and a
half lakh Gram Panchayats will be connected with broadband facility under the
National Optical Fibre Network project by December 2014.
74. The Department of Posts is
rolling out a rural ICT programme, through which all post offices will be
connected electronically. Computers will be provided to 1,30,000 post offices,
which would facilitate both postal and banking services at post offices.
75. In 2011-12, the Indian IT and
IT Enabled Services industry showed remarkable resilience by earning revenue of
US$101 billion. The total employment in IT Software and Services touched 2.8
million in 2011-12, with an annual growth of about 9%.
76. My Government has approved the
National Electronics Policy, 2012, covering a comprehensive set of schemes with
special focus on promoting domestic Electronics System Design and Manufacturing.
The National Policy on Information Technology has been approved. It envisions
strengthening and enhancing India’s position as a global hub for IT and using
IT as an engine for rapid, inclusive and sustainable growth. About 1,00,000
Citizen Service Centres are delivering IT services to the people.
77. The Government has
successfully completed the first phase of Cable TV digitization in three metro
cities. This will be extended to other cities in a phased manner.
78. We are commemorating 100 years
of Indian cinema. The first phase of the National Museum of Indian Cinema is
proposed to be dedicated to the nation at Gulshan Mahal, Mumbai.
79. During 2012, Government
commemorated the 150th Birth Anniversaries of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, Shri
Madan Mohan Malaviya and Shri Motilal Nehru apart from undertaking preparatory
work for observing the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda and the
Centenary of the Gadar movement. A new International Award, namely the “Tagore
Award for Cultural Harmony”, has been instituted. The first award will be
given posthumously to late Pandit Ravi Shankar. A National Mission for Libraries
commenced its work in 2012.
80. The Archaeological Survey of
India celebrated 150 years of existence in 2012 and took up important
initiatives in Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos for restoration of temples there.
81. The performance of our
athletes at the London Olympics and the Paralympics was encouraging. My
Government has decided to put in place a long-term plan for training of
sports-persons in select disciplines. My Government also intends to put in place
a new system for identification of sports talent from the panchayat to the
82. The Rajiv Gandhi National
Institute of Youth Development in Tamil Nadu has been accorded the status of an
institute of national importance.
83. Some parts of our country have
in the recent past witnessed communal incidents. My Government is determined to
thwart any attempt at disturbing our communal peace and harmony.
84. In July 2012, incidents of
violence took place in some districts of Assam, in which about hundred persons
were killed. In order to control the violence, adequate army and paramilitary
forces were deployed. The State Government set up relief camps and provided
basic amenities to the affected people. The Central Government announced a
package of `300 crore for relief and rehabilitation efforts.
85. Incidents of Left Wing
extremist violence have shown a declining trend. The number of deaths in naxal
violence declined from 611 in 2011 to 414 in 2012.
86. My Government is committed to
dealing with Left Wing Extremism in a comprehensive manner. It is pursuing a
two- pronged approach of conducting proactive and sustained operations against
extremists and focussing attention on development and governance issues in
extremist affected areas. A new scheme for construction and strengthening of 400
police stations has been started in the affected areas. The first phase of the
plan for improving road connectivity in 34 most affected districts at a cost of
`7,300 crore is likely to be completed by March, 2015.
87. The security situation in
Jammu & Kashmir and the North East has shown a perceptible improvement. The
number of tourists visiting Jammu & Kashmir has increased from 8.99 lakh in
2011 to 12.37 lakh in 2012. Compared with 2011, the number of fatalities in
incidents of terrorist violence in 2012 declined by nearly half. Under the
placement linked scheme named Udaan, proposals of corporate houses to train
nearly 25,000 youth from Jammu & Kashmir have already been approved. Under
another placement linked skill development initiative called Himayat, more than
1650 youth from the state have been trained, of which over 650 have been
88. My Government has accorded
high priority to Border Management. In addition to the work of border fencing,
roads and floodlighting along the borders with Bangladesh, Pakistan and Myanmar,
Government has decided to undertake the construction of 509 additional border
outposts along the Indo-Bangladesh and Indo-Pakistan border. The Integrated
Check Post at Attari was operationalised in April, 2012.
89. In pursuance of the
tri-partite agreement, an autonomous body called the Gorkhaland Territorial
Administration (GTA) has been formed in August, 2012 for the Darjeeling Hill
Areas. My Government will provide the GTA financial assistance of ` 200 crore
per annum for 3 years for development of socio-economic infrastructure. This
will be over and above the normal plan assistance to the State of West Bengal.
90. My Government remains
committed to ushering in reforms for greater transparency, probity, integrity
and accountability in governance. To this end, my Government attaches priority
to the enactment of legislation proposed in the Whistle Blowers’ Protection
Bill, the Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and Officials of
Public International Organizations Bill, Citizens' Right to Grievance Redress
Bill, and The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, which already stand introduced in the
Parliament. My Government is also considering amendments to the Prevention of
Corruption Act to punish the guilty and protect the honest public servants more
91. My Government has taken
significant initiatives including enhanced funding of ` 4867 crore in the 12th
Plan to strengthen the legal and judicial infrastructure in the country. Over
14,000 District and Subordinate Courts are being equipped with the tools of
information and communication to provide quality citizen-centric services to
litigants. As one of its foremost priorities, Government will endeavour to
establish Gram Nyayalayas for ensuring affordable and expeditious justice to the
common man. My Government proposes to introduce the Judicial Standards and
Accountability Bill in this session as a significant initiative towards judicial
92. The people of India are
grateful to our Armed Forces for their exemplary professionalism, commitment and
bravery in defending our nation. The country is united in paying tribute to our
soldiers who have made the supreme sacrifice by laying down their lives for the
93. Our Armed Forces are fully
prepared to defend the country against any threat. My Government will continue
to take all necessary steps to modernize and equip our Armed Forces; bolster
defence infrastructure, especially in the border areas; encourage indigenous
defence R&D; and expand domestic production of defence equipment. The
continuing progress in our missile programme has strengthened our deterrence
capability. Coastal security has also been further strengthened.
94. My Government attaches the
highest importance to the welfare of servicemen and ex-servicemen. Significant
steps have been taken to enhance the pay and pension of serving and retired
Services personnel and to remove disparities. This will benefit over 13 lakh
95. My Government’s foreign
policy continues to be driven by the objectives of creating an enabling
environment for our national development, ensuring the security of the nation
and fulfilling our international responsibilities.
96. We continue to seek peace,
stability, cooperation and economic development in the sub-continent. We attach
the highest priority to relations with our immediate neighbours. With Pakistan,
we have made progress towards normalization of relations, strengthening
mechanisms for bilateral trade and facilitating greater people-to-people
contact. While we remain committed to taking the process forward, it is also
important that Pakistan abides by its commitments and desists from acts that
contribute to a trust deficit. As Afghanistan prepares for the political and
security transition in 2014 and beyond, we will continue to help Afghanistan
evolve peacefully and fight terrorism and extremism.
97. My Government proposes to
introduce a Constitutional Amendment Bill in Parliament to give effect to the
provisions of the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh and its 2011 Protocol,
which will strengthen border management and our security.
98. We are making progress in our
engagement with Sri Lanka, including in our efforts to resettle and rehabilitate
the internally displaced persons there and to ensure a life of peace, dignity
and equality for the Tamil people.
99. In West Asia and North Africa,
my Government supports efforts to promote peaceful settlement of conflicts and
resolution of disputes in a manner that accommodates the democratic aspirations
of the people. We are also mindful of the fact that the Gulf region is home to
nearly six million Indians who live and work there and that we depend on the
region for the bulk of our energy requirements. We have further enhanced our
political engagement with and economic assistance to countries of Africa.
100. At the ASEAN-India
Commemorative Summit in New Delhi in December 2012, which marked the tenth
anniversary of the annual ASEAN-India Summits, we elevated our relations with
ASEAN to a strategic partnership and concluded negotiations on an ASEAN-India
Free Trade Agreement on services and investment.
101. My Government intends to work
with the new Chinese leadership to reinforce the positive direction of our
relationship. Our multi-faceted relationship with Japan, which is also a major
partner in our infrastructure development efforts, is making good progress. The
privileged and strategic partnership we have built with Russia received a
further boost during the visit of President Valdimir Putin in December 2012.
102. The Strategic Partnership
with the United States has deepened, with progress across all areas of our
relationship and we look forward to intensifying this engagement during the
second term of President Obama. India’s traditionally strong relations with
Europe will continue to develop. The visit of President Francois Hollande to
Delhi in February 2013, his first Asian destination as President, will further
strengthen our friendship and broad-based strategic cooperation with France.
103. As a non-permanent member of
the United Nations Security Council during the last two years, India played an
important role in the Council’s efforts to promote international peace and
security. We intensified efforts to generate momentum for early reform of the
United Nations Security Council. We are also seeking concerted international
action against piracy. In addition, a Piracy Bill was introduced in the
Parliament last year for prosecution in India of persons committing piracy.
104. India also remained
constructively engaged in global multilateral diplomacy. We hosted the fourth
BRICS Summit in New Delhi in March 2012 and the ministerial meet of the Indian
Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation in October 2012.
105. As our development
partnership expands and assumes an increasingly vital role in our foreign
policy, my Government has established a Development Partnership Administration
in the Ministry of External Affairs for more efficient and effective
administration of our wide-ranging assistance programme, which covers financial
aid, capacity building and training and the sharing of our development
experience and expertise.
106. My Government has
successfully completed the implementation of the Passport Seva Project, one of
the mission-mode projects under the National e-Governance Plan, to deliver
passport related services to our citizens in a timely, convenient and
107. My Government is deeply
committed to promoting the interests and welfare of overseas Indians. The
Government launched the Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Suraksha Yojana on a pilot basis
in May 2012 to provide emigrant Indian workers benefits like life insurance
cover, pensions and Return and Resettlement savings. We also signed Social
Security Agreements with Finland, Canada, Japan and Sweden. Similar agreements
with Austria and Portugal will be signed soon.
108. Our space programme
epitomizes India’s scientific achievements and benefits the country in a
number of areas. The launch of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle on 9 September
2012 marked our 100th space mission. India's first remote sensing satellite
RISAT-1, with all-weather imaging capability, was also launched in 2012. Several
space missions are planned for 2013, including India's first mission to Mars and
the launch of our first navigational satellite.
109. The country continues to make
progress in the field of nuclear energy. Electricity generation from nuclear
power plants increased by about 23% in 2011-12 over the previous year. This
year, two units of the nuclear power plant at Kudankulam, established with
Russian collaboration, will be commissioned. My Government attaches the highest
priority to the safety of nuclear power plants. A Bill to set up a Nuclear
Safety Regulatory Authority has been introduced in Parliament. We have also
conducted internal technical reviews of all safety systems of nuclear power
plants in the country. In addition, we are working with the International Atomic
Energy Agency on all nuclear safety issues.
110. The Government has unveiled
the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2013 to accelerate the pace of
discovery, diffusion and delivery of science-led solutions for faster,
sustainable and inclusive growth. In order to popularize science education in
schools, nearly 7.30 lakh scholarships have been awarded under a scheme called
Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research. About 48% of the awardees
are girls and 25% belong to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. A new PPP
doctoral fellowship titled ''Prime Minister’s Fellowship Scheme for Doctoral
Research" has been implemented this year.
111. The Government is setting up
a dedicated Seismological Research Laboratory and has launched a
first-of-its-kind research programme in the earthquake-prone Koyna-Warna region
of Maharastra to study precursor changes. The Indian tsunami early warning
system was recognized as the Regional Tsunami Service Provider for the Indian
Ocean region in October 2012. India’s third permanent station in Antarctica
was commissioned in March 2012.
112. India successfully hosted the
eleventh Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in
Hyderabad in October, 2012. The event provided India with an opportunity to
consolidate, scale-up and showcase its strengths in the field of biodiversity.
One of the most important outcomes of this Conference was the commitment made by
the Parties to double the total biodiversity-related international financial
resource flows to developing countries by 2015. At the Conference, the Prime
Minister launched the ‘Hyderabad Pledge’, wherein he announced earmarking US
$50 million during India’s presidency of the Conference of Parties to
strengthen the institutional, technical and human capabilities for biodiversity
conservation in India, and to promote similar capacity building in other
113. At the recently held Doha
Conference on Climate Change, India played a lead role in ensuring that the
principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibility continue to be
recognized as the basis of the Parties’ efforts under the United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change.
114. India stands tall as a nation
because we are seen as a liberal and plural democracy, which has faced and
overcome tremendous odds. The world recognizes India’s demonstrable democratic
and secular practices as a major achievement. While we should rejoice in the
benefits that our plurality brings, the challenge is to relentlessly pursue our
efforts to accelerate economic growth and widen opportunities within our
democratic framework. It is only if we constantly renew and defend the
democratic values that define our nationhood that we will be able to face the
great challenges that lie before us. On behalf of my Government, I appeal to all
of you to support our endeavours in marching ahead as a proud nation.