M A I N   N E W S

Kalam condemns Gujarat violence
Education to get 6 pc of GDP, health 3
Tribune News Service

Highlights of President’s Address

  • Growth to be employment oriented, reforms to have human face.
  • POTA to be repealed.
  • Demand for Telangana state to be considered.
  • New commission to study Centre-state relations.
  • Techno-economic feasibility of the rivers-linking project to be assessed.
  • 6 per cent of the GDP to be spent on education, 2-3 per cent on health.
  • Public investment in agriculture to be stepped up substantially.
  • One-third reservation for women in Vidhan Sabhas and the Lok Sabha.
  • Law to curb domestic violence.
  • Model law to deal with communal violence.
  • Urdu to be promoted, Tamil to be declared classical  language.
  • All languages in the 8th Schedule to become official. 

New Delhi, June 7
President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam today condemned the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat and expressed the new government's firm resolve to deal with the forces of communalism.

He asserted that the recent electoral verdict was for establishing the rule of the law and "repairing our secular fabric".

In his Address to a joint sitting of Parliament in the Central Hall, mandatory to the first Parliament session after General Election, the President outlined the government's priorities on political, economic, foreign policy and social agenda.

The President also declared the government's commitment to restore the autonomy of the institutions of higher learning, pursue economic reforms with a human face and consider the demand for the formation of a Telangana state.

Dr Kalam, in his 16-page Address in English, which he read out in 50 minutes, said the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) would work for achieving an economic growth rate of 7-8 per cent and increasing public spending on health to 2-3 per cent of the GDP and on education to 6 per cent.

In his reference to the Gujarat riots, the President said it was a serious matter that communal forces had been able to vitiate the atmosphere in the country.

When he referred to the Gujarat riots, a Samajwadi Party member from Moradabad, Mr Shafiq-ur-Rehman, got up to say something. But the President ignored the inaudible statement.

Dr Kalam said: "It is a matter of serious concern that forces of communalism have been able to vitiate the atmosphere in the country, leading to outbreak of riots, the most gruesome face of which was witnessed recently in Gujarat. My Government is determined to combat such forces."

The President's mention about Gujarat was welcomed by members with the thumping of desks. While stressing the need to combat such forces effectively, he said the government would adopt all possible measures to promote and maintain communal peace and harmony to provide a sense of security to the minorities. Besides, the government would also enact a model law to deal with communal violence.

On the contentious Ayodhya issue, he said the government would go by the court's decision. At the same time, it would encourage negotiations between the two warring parties to the dispute for an amicable settlement, which must get legal sanction.

He said the outcome of these elections was indicative of people's yearning for inclusiveness in all fields and their rejection of forces of divisiveness and intolerance.

On the external front, the President promised that dialogue with Pakistan on all outstanding issues would be pursued on a “sustained” basis within the framework of the 1972 Simla Agreement and all subsequent accords between the two governments, including the joint statement of January 6 this year.

He said the UPA government would give the “highest priority” to building closer political, economic, and other ties with its neighbours in South Asia and to strengthening the SAARC.

Most parts of the Presidential Address were a virtual reproduction of what has been enunciated in the foreign policy chapter of the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of the ruling alliance; there have been some changes and elaboration.

President Kalam also announced plans to expand trade and investment and political and security exchanges with China.

Dr Kalam said India would pursue a closer strategic and economic engagement with the US, the European Union and Japan.

On the domestic front, Dr Kalam said the new government would pursue on a sustained basis dialogue with all groups and with different shades of opinion in Jammu and Kashmir in consultation with the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government while according “urgent national priority” to tackling terrorism, militancy and insurgency in the North East. The north-eastern states would be given special assistance to upgrade and expand infrastructure. 


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