Surgical strikes apt reply to terror, government committed to development: President (Roundup)

New Delhi, Jan 31 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said that Indian defence forces had given a fitting reply to repeated cross-border incursions through “surgical strikes” as he outlined the Narendra Modi government’s various initiatives for India’s security and development, including demonetisation.

Addressing the joint session of the two houses of Parliament, he listed the work done by the government across various sectors and said the core of its policies was welfare of the poor, marginalised, farmers and youth.

Noting that Jammu and Kashmir has been “affected by terrorism sponsored and supported from across the border” and attempts of infiltration, terrorist violence and loss of lives of civilians and security personnel remained a cause of grave concern, he said the government was committed to combating terrorism and ensuring that its perpetrators were brought to justice.

“Terrorism poses a serious danger to the global community. India will actively collaborate with other nations in decisively defeating these forces,” he said.

He said the defence forces “successfully conducted” surgical strikes at several launch pads along the Line of Control.

“My government has taken decisive steps to give a fitting reply to the repeated incursions on our territorial sovereignty,” Mukherjee said in his address that lasted about an hour.

The President, who came to Parliament in the traditional buggy and delivered the last address to the joint session of Parliament of his present term, said India has been widely acclaimed as a bright spot in the global economy when global growth has been slow.

He said demonetisation had been carried out by the government in November last year with the aim of combating evils such as black money.

Stressing that the vision of Mahatma Gandhi and other founding fathers lays down a great path for a resurgent India, he said: “This path is of debate, discussion, accommodation and understanding.”

The president called for working to the promise of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” to bring to every citizen equality and dignity enshrined in the constitution.

“Just as all the drops of rainwater and streams converge in an ocean, all the policies of my government converge for the welfare of the poor, deprived and the underprivileged,” the president said, adding that the government was guided by the Antyodaya philosophy of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya.

Mukherjee said a more focused approach has been taken towards minorities including Muslims, noting that “like the strings of sitar, which produce different notes but come together to create a beautiful melody, people professing different faiths and religions constitute the spirit of India”.

The President said that frequent elections put on hold development programmes and the government welcomes a constructive debate on simultaneous elections. He said funding of elections also needs to be debated.

He said that the highest-ever allocation of Rs 47,000 crore had been made to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in 2016-17.

Terming that financial inclusion was the key to poverty alleviation, he said 26 crore Jan Dhan accounts have been opened for the unbanked, 20 crore RUPAY cards issued to enable cashless transactions, 13 crore people covered under various social security schemes, 5.6 crore loans sanctioned, Rs 2 lakh crore provided under Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana and Rs 16,000 crore made available to self-help groups under Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana.

Mentioning sportspersons P.V. Sindhu, Sakshi Malik and Deepa Karmakar, he said their achievements in the Rio Olympics “illustrate strength of our women”.

Referring to infrastructure, he said the highest-ever capital outlay of Rs 1.21 lakh crore had been provided for modernisation of railways.

Mukherjee also said that the intensity of India’s international engagements has helped it shape a diverse and purposeful agenda with its global partners, while the government will maximise the strength of 30 million overseas Indians in nation-building and for deepening its global outreach.

–IANS

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