Prez unveils Modi govt agenda
New Delhi, June 9
Working towards the goal of "Ek Bharat, Shresht Bharat'', the government wants to eliminate poverty, treat all minorities as equal partners in progress, attack the scourge of corruption, usher in transparent and efficient work culture and re-establish credibility of institutions of democracy, said the President.
“This has been an election of hope. It marks a turning point in the evolution of our democratic polity. The surge in aspirations and the belief that these could be realised through democratic processes, has been amply reflected in the record 66.4 per cent participation by voters…the electorate transcended the boundaries of caste, creed, region and religion to come together and vote decisively in favour of development through good governance'', said Pranab in his customary address to the joint session of Parliament.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former PM Manmohan Singh and several leaders, including Sonia Gandhi and LK Advani, heard the 50-minute address with rapt attention punctuating at times by thumping the desks, acknowledging the aspects dealing with economy, social welfare, women and girl child, agriculture, irrigation, health, education, Centre-state relations, economy and international ties.
The address broadly touched upon different facets of Modi-led government’s plan guided by the mantra of “minimum government and maximum governance” and principle of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas.”
Some of the programmes flagged by the President bore resemblance to the ones followed by the previous UPA government, be it improving conditions in rural and urban areas, health assurance mission with accent on yoga and traditional systems of medicine, sanitation campaign, spread of modern, technical education, including modernisation of madrasas (seminaries), zero tolerance for violence against women,saving the girl child, dedicated freight and industrial corridors, introduce goods and services tax, job creation in manufacturing sector, high-speed trains, and zero tolerance towards terrorism, extremism, riots and crime with stress on tackling emerging forms of narco-terrorism and cyber threats.
The President said the government is committed to providing 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and state legislative assemblies, take a close look on inter-linking of river waters, a promised made by the previous NDA government and linking of different ports under Sagar Mala.
Among the new announcements was setting up of a National Maritime Authority, liberalised FDI in defence production, National Mission on Himalayas, work to clean river Ganga, launch national e-Bhasha mission and stress on creating a digital India.
On the foreign policy front, the President said: “While the government was committed to work towards building a peaceful, stable and economically inter-linked neighbourhood, we will never shy away from raising issues of concern to us at a bilateral level.”
“We emphasise that the future of shared prosperity can only be built on the foundation of stability in the region, which requires sensitivity to security concerns and an end to export of terrorism to neighbours,” said the President.
Chalking out the road map
Pandits’ return a priority, says Modi govt
New Delhi/Srinagar/jammu, June 9
While outlining the new regime’s agenda for the next five years, President Pranab Mukherjee, in his Parliament address, said: “Special efforts will be made to ensure that Kashmiri Pandits return to the land of their ancestors with full dignity, security and assured livelihood.”
The BJP had mentioned return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants to the Valley in its manifesto.
Over 4 lakh Pandits were forced to move out of the Valley after a wave of violence swept Kashmir in the 1990s. Official data says 24,202 families migrated after militancy raised its ugly head in the Valley. A total number of 38,119 families are registered with the J-K Government.
The government’s move to ensure dignified return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley has evoked a cautious reaction from the community.
While some have welcomed the move, others have warned against raising too many expectations.
“A lot of hype has been created over the return of Pandits. Too many hopes are being raised…it can backfire. In the past, several packages have been announced, but these packages aren’t going to ensure the return of Pandits,” said Kashmir Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS) president Sanjay Tickoo.
Tickoo said the issue shouldn’t be politicised. He said the Centre should explain in detail how it would ensure Pandits' return."How are they going to rehabilitate? Those who left have sold their properties. Will the government create separate colonies?" he asked. K.N Pandita, a Human Rights activists, underscored the need of following the wait-and-watch policy, saying the stakeholders be consulted before any scheme is announced.
"We should not jump to conclusions. Any rehabilitation process should be discussed with the representatives of the community. If the plan has already been formulated, has the Central Government taken the state government into confidence?", he said.
Mahesh Koul, a Panun Kashmir (PK) activist, said: There cannot be any solution till the real cause of the exodus is addressed and culprits are brought to book."
Welcoming the government's move, general secretary of All-India Kashmiri Samaj (AIKS) Romesh Raina said: "Our request to the government would be that while framing the blueprint for the return and rehabilitation of the community, they should take into consideration the aspirations and needs of the displaced persons." He also pressed for certain Constitutional safeguards that need to be built in to allow the Pandits political space.