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President Ram Nath Kovind hails 10% reservation, surgical strikes

Highlighting various achievements of the NDA Government just weeks before the Lok Sabha polls, President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday said that it has worked to build a “New India” after assuming power in 2014 and infused new hope when the nation was passing through “uncertain times”.

Addressing a joint sitting of both houses of Parliament, Mr Kovind said the government is attempting to find “permanent solutions” for problems faced by farmers, amid speculation over an announcement of a farm relief package in the Interim Budget to be unveiled on Friday.

During his over 60-minute address in the Central Hall of Parliament, the President spoke on issues ranging from Rafale jet deal and 10 per cent reservation for the general category poor to the triple talaq legislation, the Citizenship Amendment Bill and the state of economy. Mr Kovind described the 10 per cent quota as historic.

Referring to the controversial Rafale jet deal with France over which the Congress has targeted the government, Kovind said the Indian Air Force will welcome the ultra-modern fighter aircraft in the coming months to strengthen its strike capability after a gap of many decades.

The mention of Rafale as well as the 2016 ‘surgical strikes’ carried out on terror launch pads across the border was greeted by thumping of desks by the treasury benches. “Through the surgical strike on cross border terror posts, India has shown its new policy and strategy,” the President said.

Addressing problems faced by farmers, who, the President called are the foundation of the economy, he recounted the government’s commitment to doubling their income by 2022 and listed measures taken during its tenure.

“On behalf of this august House, I compliment our annadata farmers. My government is striving day and night to attain the goal of doubling farmers’ income. Under-standing the needs of farmers, the government is seeking to find permanent solutions to their problems,” he said.

The comments by the President come against the backdrop of the attack on the government by the Congress and other opposition parties over agrarian distress.

Referring to the Citizenship Amendment Bill that has triggered protests in the Northeast, Kovind said it will give justice to persecuted minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan through Indian nationality.

He said the NDA government was mindful of the prevalence of injustice and deprivation in the society and has been working towards reforming the legal system so as to “ensure social and economic justice”.

Touching upon the state of economy, Kovind said India’s contribution to global economy has increased from 2.6 per cent in 2014 to 3.3 per cent in 2017 on the back of high growth rate during the last four and a half years.

He said the country’s GDP has been growing at a rate of 7.3 per cent on an average, making India the sixth largest economy in the world, adding that this is an opportune moment for the country to play a decisive role in the fourth industrial revolution.

Describing demonetisation as a defining moment in the NDA government’s war on corruption, Kovind said it had struck at the very root of the parallel economy which was thriving on black money.

On Jammu and Kashmir, he said the government was committed to equitable development of the three regions of the state -Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh – and has created a favourable environment for it.

Approvals for works costing over Rs 66,000 crore out of Rs 80,000 crore package have been given by the government for development in the border state, he said, asserting the government to committed to the state’s growth.

On the Rafale issue, the President said the government believes that neglecting the country’s defence needs even for a moment is detrimental to the present as well as future of the country.

“After a gap of many decades, the Indian Air Force is preparing  to welcome, in the coming months, its new generation ultra-modern fighter aircraft Rafale and strengthen its strike capability,” he said.

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