Sir, the Indian Iron and Steel Company is one of the finest companies. So many efforts have been made to revive it. But what did you do? What about SAIL? Today, it is a sick company. It might go to BIFR. What is being done in this regard? These are giants. Can Indian economy survive today without SAIL? We do not know the Government's policy on this. There is no mention of this important undertaking. I do not know whether this Government's policy is that every public sector undertaking has to be wound up. Let them say that openly.
They are talking of infrastructure. Four-five paragraphs have been devoted for the development of infrastructure. We have got the telecom scandal The Prime Minister had spoken of big highways connecting Saurashtra to Silchar and Kashmir to Kanyakumari. What has happened? Where is the money coming from? How are you going to mobilize resources? You are going to put burden on the common people. Nothing is mentioned in the Address. At least, we are not interested immediately about five year projections. That even is not mentioned. This Address is given annually. We would like to know within one year what they propose to do, how they propose to do, and for whose benefit they are going to do it. At least, we are entitled to know, the country is entitled to know, and the Parliament is entitled to know that. But have you said anything? Nothing has been said. Therefore, I am sorry to say that this is an Address only for the purpose of indulging in platitudes and generalities. They are talking of development of agriculture without one word being spoken about land reforms. Has there been any instance anywhere where you can really develop agriculture, even if you bring in all the inputs without land reforms being there? Not one word has been mentioned about the land reforms.
Sir, about the Kargil war, I cannot do anything better than wholly endorsing what our distinguished Member, Shri Indrajit Gupta said here. I wanted to say something. But I totally endorse his views. Sir, the Government owes a detailed explanation. Merely saying that they were not aware would not do. The country will not accept it.
I would like to know as to why the RAW Chief was shunted out to be a Governor when an Inquiry Committee had been set up. Once he becomes a Governor, he is not amenable to questioning even by this Committee. Will they allow the RAW Chief to be cross-examined? The inquiry will cover his activities. Therefore, it was deliberately done to shunt him off to make him unavailable for the purpose of the so called inquiry that has been set up.
Regarding the Centre-State relations, some reference has been made by Shri Ummareddy Venkateswarlu speaking on behalf of Telugu Desam Party. About adequate resources, every State is complaining. Today Shri Manohar Joshi, who is a former Chief Minister, also said that there are no resources for solving the State problem. Every State is facing a problem.
How Governors are being appointed? Is it maintaining proper relationship and cordiality between the States and the Centre? In violation of the Sarkaria Commission's recommendations they are appointing their own active partisan members of the political party that is ruling, to be Governors in States where other parties are ruling. This is not the way to have a proper federal structure in this country. They are cementing the seeds of discord between the Centre and States by taking that attitude.
The other question is about doling out relief funds. Today, as everybody knows, the main relief amount is available in the hands of the Centre and they are doling out the funds. Depending upon the nature of proximity with the present Government, they are deciding the speed with which teams are sent and the time taken on deciding the amount that will be given for relief work. This is very clear in this country. A natural calamity is not the responsibility of anybody. This should be treated as national disasters and when national disasters take place, there should not be any partisan approach. I am making an appeal to the hon. Home Minister.
Look at the problem of Tripura. They have met them yesterday also. The Chief Minister is repeatedly telling them and we are also requesting them. A small State is suffering very seriously under insurgency and the State Government is trying its best to maintain the cordiality between the tribals and non-tribals. I believe this is of a unique kind. But now all the forces are being taken away from there, either on the ground of elections or militancy elsewhere or some other thing. This withdrawal of force is creating a serious problem for the State which is a part of the eastern side of this country. Therefore, I am requesting the hon. Home Minister to look into the matter with fullest sympathy.
The time is short at my disposal and there are many other issues. So far as foreign affairs is concerned, many things are causing us concern. I do not know what will be the next round of Talbott-Jaswant usual talks. I do not know which new country they will go to, which city they will prefer this time to hold talks. I believe they have covered eight or ten cities. We do not know what my very good friend Shri Jaswant Singh has achieved by these talks. I do not know why he should talk to Mr. Strobe Talbott who is a much junior officer compared to him. He is our Foreign Affairs Minister. He should not talk to anybody and everybody. Therefore, we would like to know what is happening. What is the Government's attitude towards CTBT? These are very important issues which should be spelt out very clearly.
There are other issues for which I have no time. I submit that this Address which our most respected President read out is nothing but an attempt to give a false picture to the people of this country about the state of our economy, about the state of affairs which we are facing today, and about what they propose to do. As I said, promising everything under the sun to everybody cannot bring about real benefit to the people. That is good for the media consumption, but that is not good for the people of this country.
Therefore, I cannot but oppose the contents of this Address.
SHRI VINOD KHANNA (GURDASPUR): Hon. Deputy-Speaker Sir, I thank you very much for giving me time to speak on the Motion of Thanks to the President's Address to both Houses of Parliament.
Before I commence on my points, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the hon. President of India for addressing issues necessitating prime concentration.
First of all, I would like to congratulate all the Members of the Thirteenth Lok Sabha who are here today.
The 50 years that have passed so far since Independence have had their disappointments. India is further behind today, relative to the rest of the world than it was at Independence. In what is otherwise an epic tale of wasted promise, one success stands out, that is, India is still a democracy. As the Thirteenth Lok Sabha is constituted when one looks back, one sees that but for a brief period in the 1970s, India has remained a vibrant democracy when many of its neighbours have not been so. As we are about to celebrate the 5th anniversary of our Republic, we can be proud that our forefathers built a democracy in one of the world's poorest, most populous and most socially divided country.
Sir, as a part of our real and vibrant democratic process, when I campaigned for my party in the elections to the 13th Lok Sabha, I had the opportunity to travel into the depths of our country to meet India's poorest along the dirty paths that connect our static gulfs of humanity.
Sir, I was particularly saddened when I campaigned in the flood-prone areas of North Bihar. To think that people living there have this problem every year was beyond human comprehension and endurance. Yesterday, I was very happy to hear from our Government about their firm commitment to resolve this problem.
Our nation which lived through trackless centuries filled with the grandeur of success had to bow under the weight of its great poverty and failure of Governments for almost 50 years to bring relief to the desolate masses. One-third of the world's most desperately poor live in our nation, the nation of Mahatma Gandhi. Nearly two-thirds of Indian children who constitute less than five years are malnourished. The children who reach school age continue on an average of 3.5 years of education in the case of boys and 1.5 years in the case of girls.
Successive Governments did too much in the areas of trade protectionism, unproductive subsidy and industrial planning and too little in education, infrastructure and law and order. When the rest of the world decided that free market economic systems were axiomatically sensible, India continued to wed itself to controls and red tape. India was the exception. Exceptionalism did not build prosperity, and India stunted the life chances of its people. India's planners laid great emphasis on rapid industrialisation which was the ostensible reason for interfering with a more sensible market-driven course of development. Yet, in India, between 1960 and 1990, industrial output grew on an average by only 6 per cent a year. In Indonesia and Thailand, industrial output grew by 9 per cent and in South Korea, it grew by ten per cent and in Taiwan by 12 per cent.
More than half of India's adults are illiterates. In China, the corresponding figure is less than 20 per cent, in Thailand it is less than 10 per cent.
Unfortunately, whether it be "balanced Development", education or the eradication of poverty, India has done much worse than similar countries.
In a World Bank study of the performance of ten comparable developing economies in reducing poverty and infant mortality during the 70s and the 80s, India came seventh on eradication of poverty and tenth on reducing infant mortality. Our Agricultural output, despite the green revolution, has risen much more slowly than in most other Asian economies. And so, rural poverty remains acute and pervasive.
The record until recently was one of barely qualified failure of opportunities missed and challenges shirked. Successive Governments for decades rewarded failure and punished success.
The new economic course that our country has embarked on in the last eighteen months has led it to abandon many of the policies that had caused stagnation. But it is necessary to keep in mind the 45 years of economic failure that came first, and the devastating misery they have caused, because their effects continue even today.
Hon. Deputy-Speaker, Sir, I do not say this as a prophet of doom and gloom but to spur an appropriate sense of urgency amongst my friends in the 13th Lok Sabha. We have the daunting challenge and responsibility to bring hope and change the lives of hundreds of millions who till today are trapped in the direst poverty.
Today, the economy is improving. After decades, India's growth has been rising at six per cent a year or more. Given the energy and resilience of our people, we should be growing at a rate of eight per cent to nine per cent a year. Then the next fifty years would visibly transform the lives not just of a minority but of the masses of the people.
Today, India is faced with the task of accelerating onto the Information Superhighway with nearly 300 million adults who cannot read even road signs.
There is no reason why India should not aim at the growth rates achieved by the most successful East Asian economies. We have the resources, physical and human, and the habits of thrift and hard work to aim that high. If we look abroad, we see our own Indians living there, released from their economic shackles, thriving in competition with others and they are unable to comprehend why India has been left so far behind.
Thanks to the initiatives of our hon. Prime Minister, India is now changing faster than at any time since Independence. I therefore laud the bold initiatives taken by our hon. Prime Minister outlined in the Address by the President.
Sir, I applaud that a Department of Primary Education and Literacy has been created to give greater thrust to female literacy and primary education.
I further applaud the implementation of a programme to provide clean drinking water to all villages in the next five years, and the programme for rural connectivity through construction of all-weather roads to connect all villages.
I am happy to note that in the power and energy sector, the Centre will work closely with the State Governments for time-bound corporatisation of the State Electricity Boards. India's electricity system is a fiscal catastrophe. The State Electricity Boards taken together may be the most inefficient public utilities in the world. The average load factor is less than fifty per cent, and on top of that comes leakage or what is actually theft.
I am sure that a complete reversal is possible by the application of `zero tolerance on corruption' as also social sector development by planning and implementation of projects like Shelter for All, Water Policy, Stabilisation of Population, National Health Policy, Electricity Policy, Telecom Policy, Empowerment of Women and Girl Child, Improved Law and Order, Lok Pal and the vision of the new millennium...(Interruptions)
SHRI BALBIR SINGH (JALANDHAR) Mr. Deputy-Speaker, Sir, will you allow him to read?...(Interruptions)
SHRI VINOD KHANNA : I am quoting from the notes. There are many points. I have to refer to the notes. It is my maiden speech. Please do not interrupt me...(Interruptions) I am also going to talk about Punjab.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Please keep silence.
SHRI VINOD KHANNA : I continue now from where I left. This would bring in a greater degree of social, economic and political stability to the people of this country.
Sir, I submit that fiscal rectitude is the need of the hour, for unless our fiscal deficit is reduced, our public debt will keep growing, adding each year to the risk of another financial crisis.
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Khanna, you use your notes, but do not read the speech.
SHRI VINOD KHANNA : Sir, I have got facts and figures and so, I am quoting from my notes.
SHRI VINOD KHANNA : Sir, it is my maiden speech. I have put together a lot of facts and figures. I have done a lot of hard work and I need to refer to it. (Interruptions)
SHRI PRIYA RANJAN DASMUNSHI : Mr. Deputy-Speaker, since it is his maiden speech, it should not be disturbed. If he reads his speech, we shall all support him; he can carry on. (Interruptions)
MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Please do not interrupt him. Please take your seat.
SHRI VINOD KHANNA : Sir, I would not like to miss the opportunity to mention about Punjab and especially my constituency, since I have got this opportunity to speak here due to the love and affection of the people of my constituency.
Sir, I represent Gurdaspur, a constituency that with the rest of Punjab was ravaged by terrorism. Punjab is the most repressed State in terms of cross-border terrorism and now mercenaries have joined the race and called it a Jehad which means a holy war. My State of Punjab has already been divided into many parts in terms of religion. More so, India has already been broken into three parts in the name of religion. But, we, the citizens of India, co-exist in India as Indians and are incredibly tolerant of each other's religion, language, ethnicity and culture. These mercenaries, who are continuously engaged in extensive wars for decades, are trying to attack the very foundation of such tolerance.
Sir, it is clear that no religion of the world could call a mercenary a holy man. These mercenaries are out to destabilise economies and wage low-intensity wars against world nations, because they cannot engage in an all-out battle. The presence of Osama Bin Laden and Taliban in our border countries should be viewed both diplomatically and militarily. So, I applaud the `zero tolerance' principle towards terrorism which the Government has announced through the President's Address.
Sir, enterprise and endeavour symbolise the essential spirit of the people of Punjab. Punjab has an average growth rate of eight per cent, literacy of 58 per cent and the highest per capita income in the country. Yet, my constituency has been neglected for too long, because it is a border district. There is no investment over there, because the people have not been able to take the risk of putting in their money there. The Government also has not been able to invest any money over there and yet, it is the people of my constituency, who reside at the border, have been the first to protect it and our motherland, in times of crisis, at the cost of their lives.
Sir, I am proud to state that in the recently concluded Kargil war, a large of number of martyrs and wounded people in any district were from the district of Gurdaspur. I myself had gone to Kargil during Operation Vijay. I had met our soldiers there. I had seen as to how high their morale is and how committed they are to defend this country. But they have certain needs which we have not been able to provide to them. Many of them complained of inadequate clothing, shoes and they talked about the need for the upgradation and modernisation of our equipment. I am very happy that, in the President's Address, the Government has promised to modernise and upgrade the Indian Army.