President Pratibha Devisingh Patil expressed confidence of economy reverting back to 8 to 9% growth amid strong domestic fundamentals and announced a slew of pro-people measures before the budget on March 16.
Her longest and last address to the joint session of Parliament in mid-way of UPA-2 government’s tenure reflected its concern on economic slow down and poor performance in recent elections in five states.
“My government is confident that it will soon steer the country back to the high growth trajectory of 8-9%,” the president said, while devoting large part of her speech to economic revival and security.
The economy grew at an average rate of more than 9% between 2005-06 and 2007-08. The growth rate fell to 6.7% in 2008-09 on account of global financial crisis, but recovered the momentum to 8.4% in 2009-10 and 2010-11.
President said the growth is expected to slow down to 7% in the current fiscal from 8.4 % in the last financial year but described it “healthy” considering the global trends. She hoped that average economic growth in the 12th plan (2012-17) would be nine% with agriculture growth to be about 4%, a target, economists say, would be difficult to achieve.
Meeting the high economic goal will not be possible without harvesting demographic dividend by 2020 --- when average age of an Indian would be 29 years.
For that, Patil said eight crore young people will get skill training by 2017 and for it the government will open 6,500 new skill development institutes. The government will also invest heavily in skill oriented higher education was another high point of her speech .
In her 106 paragraph speech described as without any vision by BJP, she addressed all issues from black money, to new e-governance initiatives, government vigor to fight corruption, livelihood security, health for all, agriculture and national food security law.
On corruption and governance, Patil said the measures taken by the government threw slew of legislations had a “potential of bringing about a transformational change” in fighting corruption and enhancing transparency and accountability in governance.
She also announced that new e-governance projects in education, health, public distribution and postal services will be launched and more public services under all e-governance projects will be delivered through internet and mobile phones. With help of unique identification or Aadhaar number financial inclusion will be achieved, she said.
In the area of internal security, Patil said, government has launched a number of measures towards development of areas affected by left wing extremism. Asserting that situation in the north-east and Jammu and Kashmir has shown considerable improvement during the last year, she said the government has shown that acts of violence can be contained with a firm but humane approach.
Patil also pointed out five big challenges for the government --- livelihood security, economic security, energy security and guaranteeing internal and external security and environmental security and elaborated on the steps taken to taken on the challenges.