NEW DELHI: President Pranab Mukherjee Monday said the land acquisition Act has been "refined" to minimise some procedural difficulties in acquiring land for critical projects and that inclusive growth is government's topmost priority.
Addressing a joint session of both houses of parliament, the president said the National Democratic Alliance government has embarked on a comprehensive strategy in nine months to unleash the country's full potential.
Describing terrorism and left wing extremism, as "a grave challenge" to the country's internal security, the president said the government was "firmly committed to deal with them".
Referring to the land ordinance, being firmly opposed by many Opposition parties, the president said the government attaches paramount importance to safeguarding interests of farmers and families affected by land acquisition.
He said utmost care has been taken to protect the interest of farmers, including their compensation entitlements, and the original Act has been "suitably refined to minimise certain procedural difficulties in acquisition of land required for infrastructure projects and for creation of basic amenities like rural housing, schools and hospitals particularly in remote areas".
"Inclusive growth covering the poorest of poor from the most vulnerable and disadvantaged sections of our society is my government's topmost priority," the president said.
The president also said that legal reforms were a priority for the government and it was committed to repeal obsolete laws, simplify procedures, swift decision-making and taking governance to the doorstep of the poor.
He said the government has sought to create a conducive and enabling environment in Jammu and Kashmir, especially for various displaced segments of its population.
The president also said that the government had accelerated the modernisation of armed forces with strong emphasis on "Make in India".
He said the government has initiated measures to stir action in a range of areas from sanitation to smart cities, poverty elimination to creation of wealth, skill development to conquering space, tapping demographic dividend to diplomatic initiatives.
Mukherjee said the government had also taken steps to enhance ease of doing business, put in place a stable policy framework, empower individuals, ensure quality infrastructure, end financial untouchability, make the country a manufacturing hub, contain inflation, stimulate economy, ignite minds, ensure inclusive growth, promote cooperative federalism and encourage a competitive spirit among the states.
"A strong beginning has been made. A promising future awaits us," he said.
The president also referred to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's ideologues - Deen Dayal Upadhyaya and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee - at the beginning of his speech.
The president said the government had elevated erstwhile department of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) to a full-fledged ministry to increase footprint of traditional systems of healthcare.
Stating that the laws in parliament reflect the people's will and aspirations, the president urged the parliamentarians to discharge their responsibility in a spirit of cooperation and mutual accommodation.
"By channelising the patriotic energies of every citizen, we must collectively work towards building a strong and modern India. Ek Bharat shresth Bharat (One India, Great India)," he said.
Interestingly, the president speech made a laudatory reference to Mahatma Gandhi National Rual Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), launched by former Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.
"MGNREGS can be a powerful weapon to combat rural poverty. While implementing MGNREGS with renewed vigour, emphasis is being placed on improving durability of assets," the president said.
He also mentioned about the initiatives taken for improving learning outcomes, teachers' training, women's security, sex ratio, skills of youth, protecting environment and boosting tourism.
He referred to various schemes launched by the NDA government including Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Swachh Bharat Misssion, Skill India programme and Housing for all by 2022.
On relations with the neighbours, the president said the government has reinvigorated India's relations with its neighbours and, at the same time, was fully prepared to defend its borders.