Maximum credit to small farmers to boost agriculture: Chair: The Tribune India

Tribune press service

Aditi Tandon

New Delhi, January 31

President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday credited smallholder farmers for the strength of India’s agricultural sector, hailed the government for its efforts to promote women’s rights and hailed India’s growth as one of the world’s growing economies. fastest growing.

The President made special mention of the recently introduced bill to bring the legal age of marriage for women to the same level as men at 21 and spoke of record GST collections.

In his address to both Houses of Parliament at the start of Monday’s budget session, the President noted national resilience in the face of Covid, saying the record delivery of over 150 crore vaccine doses had made India the one of the main countries with the highest doses administered. .

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ministers Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, Nitin Gadkari, Pralhad Patel, Vice President Rajya Sabha Harivansh, BJP Leader JP Nadda, Rajya Sabha Opposition Leader Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and TMC leader in LS Sudip Bandopadhyay were seated in the front row in the central hall of parliament during the address.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi was conspicuous by her absence.

In his nearly 50-minute address, the President said, “I would like to thank the country’s small-scale farmers as much as possible for this continued success and strengthening of the agricultural sector. The interests of small farmers, who make up 80% of the farming community, have always been at the heart of our government.

He mentioned PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi and direct cash transfer of Rs 1.8 crore to over Rs 11 crore of farming families as an investment and said over Rs 1 lakh crore had been paid as compensation to eight crores of farmers since the introduction of changes to the crop insurance scheme.

The government had earlier said that the now-repealed farm laws would benefit small farmers enormously. The President praised farmers for over 30 crore tonnes of food grains and 33 crore tonnes of horticultural products in 2020-21 and the government for corresponding record purchases.

“The government purchased 433 lakh metric tons of wheat during the rabi season, benefiting about 50 lakh farmers. A record amount of around 900 lakh metric tons of paddy was procured during the kharif season, benefiting 1.3 crore farmers,” the president said, adding that agricultural exports also hit a record high, rising by more than 25% in 2020-21 to reach nearly Rs 3 lakh crore.

Outlining the government’s record across the board – delivering clean water to six million rural households, building pucca houses, infrastructure among others, the president said several major countries were facing famine during Covid, but in India , a “responsive government ensured that no one was left hungry”.

“Government provides free ration every month to every poor household under the leadership of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana. It is the largest food distribution program in the world with an expenditure of Rs 2.6 lakh crore reaching 80 crore beneficiaries for 19 months. Being fully responsive to the current circumstances, the government has extended this program until March 2022,” the president said.

He called the empowerment of women one of the government’s top priorities saying, “Treating sons and daughters equally, my government has also introduced a bill to raise the minimum age marriage for women aged 18 to 21, on the same basis as men”.

The president also hailed the criminalization of triple talaq, an end to restrictions on Muslim women who previously could only perform Haj in the company of men, and 4.5 crore scholarships to students from minority communities against 3 crore before 2014.

He happily noted that 33 Sainik schools have started admitting girls and the first batch of female cadets will enter the National Defense Academy in June 2022.

Regarding the economy, the President said that India has again emerged as one of the fastest growing economies in the world and GST collection has consistently remained above Rs one lakh crore over the past few months.

“The inflow of $48 billion in the first seven months of the current financial year is testament to the confidence of the global investment community in India’s growth story,” he said. , noting that India’s foreign exchange reserves top $630 billion and exports have snapped. multiple records.

From April to December 2021, merchandise exports amounted to $300 billion or more than Rs 22 lakh crore, one and a half times more than the corresponding period of 2020, the president said, also speaking on the India’s growing self-reliance in defense and growing diplomatic weight in the world.

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