President Droupadi Murmu greets Prime Minister Narendra Modi
President Droupadi Murmu greets Prime Minister Narendra Modi as she leaves after addressing the joint sitting of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in Parliament on the first day of the Budget Session 2023, in New Delhi on Tuesday, January 31, 2023. Also seen is Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar. Image Credit: ANI

New Delhi: The Budget session of Parliament started with the maiden address of President Droupadi Murmu to a joint sitting of both Houses on Tuesday.

Addressing the joint sitting, President Murmu said that the vision of holistic development can only be achieved by paying proper attention to the hopes and aspirations of the many classes and regions of the country. “Now my government is giving priority to each such deprived class and deprived region,” she said.

“My government has awakened the aspirations of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. These classes were most deprived of the benefits of development. Now that basic facilities are reaching this section, these people are becoming capable of having newer dreams.

“Programmes such as Dr. Ambedkar Utsav Dham, Amrit Jaldhara and Yuva Udyami Yojana are being run for the socio-economic empowerment of Scheduled Castes. My government has taken unprecedented decisions for the pride of the tribal communities. For the first time, the country started celebrating the birth anniversary of Bhagwan Birsa Munda as ‘Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas’,” the President said in her address.

President Murmu further said, “Recently, the government paid tributes to the tribal revolutionaries at the national level in Mangarh Dham for the first time. Today, more than 36,000 tribal-dominated villages are being developed under the Pradhan Mantri Adi Adarsh Gram Yojana. Today more than 400 Eklavya Model Schools have opened in tribal areas in the country. More than 3,000 Van Dhan Vikas Kendras have become new means of livelihood across the country.

“My government has demonstrated its commitment to the welfare of OBCs by giving constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes. For the first time, a Welfare and Development Board has also been constituted for the Banjara, nomadic and semi-nomadic communities.

“There were more than 100 districts in the country which were lagging behind on many parameters of development. The government paid attention to their development by declaring these districts as aspirational districts. Today these districts are moving towards parity with other districts of the country,” the President told the joint sitting, adding that the government has taken a number of successful steps for lasting peace and has confronted the geographical challenges resulting in the northeast and border areas experiencing a new pace of development.

While speaking about women empowerment, she said, “We have seen the success of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign. The consciousness that has come in the society due to efforts of the government has led to a steady increase in the number of daughters. For the first time in the country, the female population now outnumbers that of males and the health of women has also improved considerably. Be it the Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan or the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, we have succeeded in saving the lives of both mother and child. About 50 per cent of the beneficiaries of the Ayushman Bharat scheme are also women.”

Talking about ‘Make in India’ and the Aatmanirbhar Bharat campaigns, the President said that the nation has started reaping the fruits of success of these schemes.

“Today we have initiated efforts for manufacturing of semiconductor chips and aeroplanes in India. It is the result of such efforts that the export of goods made in India is increasing continuously. Until a few years ago, we used to import mobile phones in large numbers. Today India has become a major exporter of mobile phones to the world,” President Murmu said.

“As a result of a new initiative of my government, our defence exports have grown six times. I am proud that the first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant has also joined our forces. We are not only entering new sectors of manufacturing, but are also doing commendable work in our traditional sectors like Khadi and Village Industries. It is a matter of happiness for all of us that the turnover of the Khadi and rural industries has crossed Rs 1 lakh crore-mark during the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’. Due to the efforts of my government, the sale of Khadi has also increased four times,” the President told Parliament.

Talking about social infrastructure, the President said, “While 145 medical colleges were opened in the country between 2004 and 2014, more than 260 medical colleges have been opened during the tenure of my government from 2014 to 2022. The number of graduate and postgraduate seats for medical students has now doubled in the country as compared to earlier periods.”

Murmu said that this is the best phase of India’s global relations as the cooperation and friendship with various countries of the world have been strengthened. On the one hand, we are chairing the SCO this year, and on the other hand, being a member of the Quad, we are working for peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, she said.

“The goodwill that India has generated benefitted us during the crises in Afghanistan and Ukraine. We safely evacuated our distressed citizens from these countries. By helping the citizens of many other countries, India again displayed its humanitarian gesture to the world.

“Today the world is also acknowledging India’s tough stand on terrorism. Due to this, India’s voice against terrorism is being heard seriously on every global platform,” said President Murmu.