NEW DELHI: Presenting key achievements of the Modi government ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, President Ram Nath Kovind Thursday asserted 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".
Kickstarting the Budget Session of Parliament with an address to a joint sitting of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, Kovind also 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 Friday.
During his over 60-minute address in the Central Hall of Parliament, Kovind 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.
Kovind described the 10 per cent quota as historic.
"Prior to the 2014 General Election, the country was passing through a phase of uncertainty. After the elections, my government assumed charge and vowed to build a New India. A New India with no place for imperfect, corrupt and inertia ridden systems," he said.
The President's address, which reflects the government's views, assumes significance as it comes just ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, expected to be held in April-May.
In the last four and a half years, the government has infused new hope and confidence among the people of the country, enhanced the country's image and has effectively brought in social and economic change, he said.
From day one, the government's mission, based on transparency, was to improve the lives of citizens, to eradicate their difficulties owing to poor governance, and to make sure that the benefit of public services reach the lowest strata of the society, he said.
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, he called are the foundation of the economy, the President recounted the government's commitment to doubling farmers' 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.
Understanding 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.
Highlighting the government's achievements and various welfare schemes, Kovind said 21 crore poor people were covered under the PM's life insurance scheme, while over 2 crore households got power connection as part of the Saubhagya scheme.
"Under the Swachh Bharat initiative, the government has built nine crore toilets," he said.
Touching on the triple talaq bill, which is stuck in the Rajya Sabha due to stiff opposition after being passed in the Lok Sabha, he said the BJP-led NDA government is striving hard to get the bill passed by Parliament to "liberate Muslim daughters" from a life of fear and anxiety and to provide them with equal rights.
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.