11.07.91 *t02

PRESIDENT'S ADDRESS

[English]

SECRETARY-GENERAL: I beg to lay on the Table a copy of the

President's Address to both Houses of Parliament assembled together on the 11th July, 1991.

President's Address

Honourable Members,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to this joint session of Parliament. I felicitate the Members of the new Lok Sabha.

2. May 21, 1991 was a nightmare. The heinous assassination of Rajiv Gandhi plunged the country into gloom. His assassination was an inhuman act of the worst kind. He had provided leadership at a moment of grave crisis in the history of our nation. In his death the country has lost a promising leader. Rajiv Gandhi's vision of the future, the optimism which he exuded, his great patriotism, his commitment to the poor, his striving for world peace will continue to inspire the people of India as well as peace loving people the world over.

3. The previous government constituted a Commission of Inquiry consisting of Mr. Justice J. S. Verma, a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court of India, to inquire into the assassination of Shri Rajiv Gandhi. Government is of the opinion that the terms

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of reference of the Commission should be enlarged and made comprehensive.

4. The people of India have faced this crisis with fortitude and maturity. Forces which tried to subvert democracy and destabilise the country stand frustrated. The recently concluded General Election has once again demonstrated the strength and vitality of the democratic process in India.

5. The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi has brought into sharp focus the need to arrest the growing cult of violence in the country. The law and order situation in the country has been a cause of great concern for sometime now. Violence has continued in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. The situation in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur has continued to cause concern. Extremist activity in some states has also put the law and order machinery under severe pressure.

6. Violence and terrorism in Punjab continued unabated. It is, however, heartening that the people of Punjab have maintained communal harmony in spite of the nefarious tactics of the terrorists who constitute a small fraction of the population. Assisted by the Army in the border areas, security forces have been relentlessly fighting to contain the senseless killings, extortions and kidnappings by the terrorists. To check infiltration from across the border, the work on border fencing and flood lighting in Punjab was expedited and has been completed as planned. Elections to the Legislative Assembly and the Parliamentary Constituencies in Punjab were to be held on 22nd June, 1991. However, the large scale killing of candidates and the atmosphere of the fear and terror created by militants rendered it impossible to ensure a free and fair poll. Polling has, therefore, been postponed to 25th September, 1991. Government will continue to deal firmly with terrorism and secessionism. Government is committed to restore normalcy and to start the democratic process in Punjab at the earliest. However, mili-

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tants and secessionists will not be allowed to misuse the elections for their ends. Government stands by the Rajiv-Longowal Accord.

Negotiations are always possible with those who eschew violence and accept the framework of our Constitution. Government is prepared to take whatever new initiatives are required and will continue to strive for a comprehensive settlement of all outstanding issues in order to have a permanent and peaceful solution in Punjab.

7. The law and order and security situation in Jammu and Kashmir deterioratd fast during the past year and a half. Secessionists and certain fundamentalist elements, aided and abetted from across the border, are carrying out terrorist and subversive activities. The security forces are taking necessary and effective measures to combat secessionism and terrorism. Lately, encouraging signals have been received in the form of surrender of many militants. The relationship between Government and the people needs to be strengthened. People's committees will be constituted at different levels to ensure their participation. At the same time, stern action will be taken against secessionist forces. Special attention will be paid to providing employment for the unemployed youth of Jammu and Kashmir.

8. Elections were held in Assam and people have given a fitting reply to the forces of secession. The people of Assam deserve to be congratulated on the peaceful manner in which elections were conducted. Government will ensure that secessionist elements in Assam are brought back into the mainstream. Genuine grievances of the people will be redressed. Steps will be taken for the rapid economic development of Assam.

9. It is a matter of serious concern that the forces of communalism have been able to vitiate the atmosphere in the country leading to the out-break of serious riots in the last two years.

Government are determined to combat such forces and uphold the values 5 President's Address

of secularism. Government will not allow the rights and interests of religious, linguistic and ethnic minorities to be compromised. A composite Rapid Action Force will be formed and appropriately equipped and trained to deal with riots and will be made available to the State Governments at very short notice. More Special Courts will be set up as necessary to try offences relating to communal riots. Procedures will be strengthened to enable speedy and adequate compensation to be paid to victims of communal riots. Places of worship must be treated with due respect. We cannot allow communal elements to defile their sanctity by using such places as instruments to generate controversy and discord. Government will make every effort to find a negotiated settlement to the Ram Janma Bhoomi--Babri Masjid issue with due regard to the sentiments of both communities involved. In case of all other places of worship, a Bill will be introduced to maintain the status quo as on 15th August, 1947, in order to foreclose any new controversy. The special cell established in 1988 to gather intelligence in communally sensitive districts will be strengthened with a view to preventing riots. The next-of-kin of those whose lives are lost in communal riots will be rehabilitated by providing suitable employment to them.

10. We are proud of our armed forces. They have risen to the occasion whenever called upon to defend the territorial integrity of our country. assist the civil authorities in the maintenance of law and order and in organising relief and rescue measures. Government will continue to pursue various welfare schemes for the defence services, both for serving and retired personnel. Government will give priority to the upgradation of and self-reliance in defence technologies.

11. Government recognises that the country is in the midst of an economic crisis of unprecedented magnitude. It has been living beyond its means and adopting soft options. We have been overtaken by events.

We

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must act now. No sacrifice is too great to safeguard our economic independence and the country must prepare itself to take hard and unpleasant economic decisions.

12. Government is committed to the macro-economic stabilisation and structural reforms which will unleash the nation's latent energy to bring about accelerated development. The Reserve Bank of India has brought about an adjustment in the exchange rate in order to strengthen competitiveness of our exports, to reduce expenditure on inessential imports. to reduce the incentive for capital flight and stabilise the capital account. We intend to take concerted measures in the areas of trade policy and industrial policy reform further to enhance the competitiveness of our export. We are committed to ensure that the poor and the underprivileged do not have to bear a disproportionate burden of the adjustment process.

13. Of particular concern is the rise in prices of essential commodities which hurts the weaker sections the most. Government attaches the highest priority to reducing inflation and will adopt necessary measures towards this end. The interest of the weaker sections of society will be kept uppermost in mind, while framing strategies for this purpose. Measures to restrain growth in money supply, economies in Government expenditure: encouragement to small savings: better supply and demand management of sensitive commodities, and provision of incentives for higher production in the medium term will receive priority.

14. Fiscal imbalances continue to be a major concern for the Government. Despite attempts at controlling expenditure and raising additional revenues, the revised estimate of budget deficit for 1990- 91 is Rs. 10,772 crores against the budget estimate of Rs. 7,206 crores. Government is committed to observing strict fiscal discipline.

The veneration of black

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money will be checked. Government expenditure will be controlled.

While making necessary adjustments, Government would ensure that the burden does not fall on the poor.

15. The balance of payments position, already under severe strain, was further exacerbated by the Gulf crisis, the direct adverse impact of which is estimated at $ 2.7 billion (over Rs. 4,900 crores).

Of this, the additional cost of oil imports alone accounted for $ 2 billion while the rest was, among others. owing to the loss of exports, evacuation of Indian nationals and reduced inflow of capital.

The balance of payments situation has become more critical as the flow of funds from international capital markets did not materialise as anticipated, though several countries did offer help. Significant bilateral assistance has come particularly from Japan as also from Germany, U.K., the Netherlands and Denmark. The management or balance of payments is one of the most crucial tasks before us and Government will not hesitate to take the hard decisions necessary in this behalf.

16. Exports have a vital role in solving the balance of payments problem. During 1990-9 l, our exports were affected adversely.

resulting in a slowdown in the rate of growth. Government has recently announced major structural reforms in trade policy. It is hope(l that export trade will get out of the circle of low growth. high cost and stifling controls and once again get on to a high trajectory of growth. Government's ultimate goal is to eliminate all licensing control on the import of capital goods and raw materials except for a small negative list.

17. The Uruguay Round o! multilateral negotiations is underway in Geneva. While attaching importance to strengthening the multilateral trading system. Government will endeavour to see that the outcome of the negotiations would be a favourable

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trading environment for developing countries.

18. Efforts will be made tc step up industrial growth. In 1990- 91, the average industrial growth was 8.4% compared 8.5% during the 7th Plan period. Government is determined to work towards making India internationally competitive. For this purpose, fullest use will be made of modern science and technology. The opportunities provided by increasing internationalisation of the industry and trade will be fully utilised. The development of the small scale sector and khadi and village industries will receive the Government's close attention.

Government will work for extensive deregulation and reduction of bureaucratic intervention. r., this end, a comprehensive review of policies and procedures has been initiated. In order to raise the competitiveness and quality of Indian industry to global levels.

technology imports will be liberalised and facilitated in areas where Indian technology does not measure up to international standards.

Changes in procedures are being worked out so that the investment climate is made more conducive for participation by foreign companies 3rd non-resident Indians. Efficiency will be promoted in services required by industrial and other users from financial institutions and banks.

19. Reforms in the functioning of the public sector are being formulated to improve its performance. The management of the public sector will be strengthened through selection of the best talent available. Public Sector managers will be allowed greater autonomy without diluting accountability. A policy is being evolved for disinvestment, including workers' Participation in equity and for vacating areas of activity where public sector involvement is not essential and where private and joint sectors have developed capabilities.

20. To provide a boost to the electronics industry and to promote software exports. a number of measures

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are being initiated. These would include setting up of technology parks and attracting international leaders in semi-conductors technology to set up facilities in India. High priority will be accorded to expanding the production of crude oil and refining capacity. Government will take special measures to tackle sickness in the textile industry and improve the price competitiveness of Indian textile exports. Immediate attention will be given to problems faced by the food processing industry. which has a critical relevance for the better utilisation and greater value addition of agricultural produce.

21. The development of infrastructure will receive Government's close attention. Power generation will be stepped up. Steps will be taken to made the steel industry more competitive. Modernisation of rail transport and augmentation of capacity will receive attention.

Telecom services will receive very high priority. It will be the endeavour of the Government to upgrade telecom and postal services and to ensure that the telephone reaches every village before the end of the decade.

22. Science and technology must be brought to the centre stage in economic planning. It is to the credit of our scientists that we have been able to establish internationally acclaimed competence in several areas. During the current year, two major space events have been scheduled the launch of the Indian Remote Sensing Satellite and the launch of the Indian National Satellite. These represent our commitment to provide services in areas like communications telecasting. broadcasting and meteorology and relevant data in the areas of ground water availability, forestry. agriculture. and mineral resources. Significant progress has also been made in the development of various Satellite Launch Vehicles. Our efforts at using atomic energy for our development needs have yielded encouraging results.

Members will be happy to learn that in the next few

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months Narora-2 power reactor and Kakrapar-1 power station will go critical. Government will take all possible steps to accelerate the pace of progress in science and technology.

23. The total production of foodgrains in 1990-91 is expected to be 177.2 million tonnes. This will be the third successive year of increased foodgrains production and this has happened for the first time since independence. This is due to the untiring efforts of our farmers and more effective adoption of scientific farm management practices. We will ensure that our farmers get a fair and remunerative price for their produce. Conditions will be created for further increase in agricultural yields. Agricultural research will receive the Government's close attention. Extension services will be strengthened and modern technology will be made available to our farmers in a usable manner. Technology for increasing productivity in rainfed agriculture would be further developed and efforts would be made to ensure that a package of supportive measures to increase the income levels of small and marginal farmers in these areas reaches them. The development of water resources will receive high priority.

Government will make every effort to maximise indigenous production of Fertilizers and ensure its timely availability to the farmers. At least 90% self sufficiency in nitrogenous fertilizers will be ensured by commissioning the gas based plants at Babrala, Shahjahanpur, Gadepan and Kakinada and doubling the capacities of the plants at Vijaipur. Aonla and Jagdishpur during the 8th Five Year Plan. Animal husbandry will be further developed with emphasis on genetic improvement, animal health and cost effective feed. Particular attention will be paid to remote areas.

24. Given the difficult economic situation facing the country, the formulation of the 8th Five Year Plan assumes added importance.

The Planning Commission began formulating

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the Plan in l988. However, due to frequent changes in Government the Plan document could not be finalised. Government will take necessary steps for the early finalisation of the 8th Plan.

25. India has had a deep commitment to environmental conservation drawn from its ethos. India shares the emerging global concerns hl the context of the environmental changes induced by economic and technological activities. We shall take the required intiatives to ensure that our commitment to sustainable development crystallises.

Wasteland and water resource development have enormous potential for employment and productivity. A new policy on abatement of pollution is under preparation which aims at promoting environmentally sound and clean technologies to minimise waste and control pollution. A National Forestry Action Programme is being prepared with the involvement of all State Governments. The role of citizen groups will be encouraged.

26. The youth of India represent a large. creative and vibrant resource segment of our society. Investment in their development is an investment in the future of the country. Government will formulate policies for actively involving youth efforts to nurture the spirit of national integration and pride in our country. Linkage between education, development of youth, sports and physical education will be strengthened. The rapid expansion of opportunities for productive employment will he a major objective of our planning and economic policy.

27. Women and children, particularly those belonging to poor households, are the two most vulnerable groups of our population that need special attention. The lntegrated Child Development Services (ICDS). the largest child development programme in the world, has completed fifteen years of successful implementation. Government is committed to


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