PRESIDENT Kovind hails CAA as historic in the interest of persecuted people

Highlights | Violence In Name Of Protests Weakens Democracy, Says President Kovind In Parliament

President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday, January 31, hailed the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act as “historic” in his address to the joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament opening the Budget Session for 2019-20 of the NDA Government headed by Narendra Modi. The Government has fulfilled another wish of the Father of The Nation ,Mahatma Gandhi, by giving dignity to the oppressed people compelled to take shelter in India, added amid protest by some opposition members and applause by the Treasury Benches in the historic Central Hall of Parliament. Debate and discussion on any issue strengthens democracy while violence during protests weaken it. As soon as the president made these remarks, some opposition members shouted “shame, shame” slogans and displayed banners. Kovind also made it clear that the procedure to grant citizenship to people of all religions and those who have faith in India and keen to take Indian citizenship remains as it was. “Debate and discussions strengthen democracy but violence during protests weaken democracy,” he said without directly referring to the anti-CAA protest in the country some of which have witnessed violence. Referring to abrogation of Article 370, Kovind said there is happiness among people of India that people in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have got rights at par with the rest of the country. The President said Parliament has created record in the first seven months of the new government headed by Narendra Modi by enacting several landmark legislations. “My government is taking strong steps for making this decade as India’s decade and this century as India’s century,” he said. Kovind also condemned the atrocities against minorities in Pakistan and urged the international community to take necessary action. The President said the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff and the Department of Military Affairs will bring synergy among three services of the defence forces and speed up their modernisation. On steps to tackle terrorism, he said the Modi government has given a free hand to security forces to curb the menace. The government was working for the security of women and will set up over 1000 fast track courts to dispose of cases of crime against women, he said and added the people have given mandate to the present government to build a New India and it is following the Mantra of Sabkha Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Viswas. President Kovind reminded all political leaders that they must always remember that they are first and foremost citizens of this country and leaders or supporters of a particular ideology thereafter. He also added that the prestige of the country should be more important than party loyalties. President Kovind also gave a clarion call to them to make every citizen conscious of and dedicated to his duties in the national interest and ensure that this sense of responsibility becomes the guiding principle of civic life. He also called for uniting to make this decade of 2020 the decade of fulfilling duties. The President also lauded the countrymen over their mature behaviour after the Supreme Court’s decision on Ram Janmabhoomi. Lauding the contributions of farmers, the President said that bringing about a change in their lives is the priority of the government. He also said that the government is going to spend an amount of 25 lakh crore rupees in the coming years to strengthen the rural economy. Under the Prime Minister’s Kisan Samman Nidhi, he said that more than 43 thousand crore rupees has been deposited in the bank accounts of over eight crore farmers. He also said that the government is working with dedication to provide the farmers, prices which are one and a half times the input cost. Talking about the health initiatives, Mr Kovind said, the government is working with a holistic approach in the area and serious efforts are being made at every level in preventive and curative health care. He added that the impact of the Ayushman Bharat Scheme on the health sector of the country is visible. Under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, so far 75 lakh poor have availed free treatment. More than 27 thousand Health and Wellness Centres have also been set up. On women safety, the President said that the more than 600 One Stop Centres have been set up in the country and a national database has been created to identify the perpetrators of crimes against women. He also announced that over one thousand Fast Track Special Courts will be set up across the country to ensure speedy justice in such cases. It has also been decided to set up a Women Help Desk in every Police Station of the country.(edited by PK Chakravarty)

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