New Delhi: As the budget session commenced, President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday hit out at the frequent disruption and obstruction of Parliament and urged MPs to function in a spirit of cooperation, asserting that it reflects the supreme will of the people.
In his customary address to the year's first session of Parliament prepared by the government outlining its agenda for the coming fiscal, he skipped contentious issues like the unrest in the JNU or Hyderabad University or the reservation agitation in Haryana.
The President declared that the government will constantly strive for smooth and construction conduct of Parliamentary business
"Our Parliament reflects the supreme will of the people. Democratic temper calls for debate and discussion, and not disruption of obstruction.
"My government will constantly strive for smooth and constructive conduct of Parliamentary business. I urge all Members of Parliament to discharge their solemn responsibilities in a spirit of cooperation and mutual accommodation. Let us all collectively endeavour to build a flourishing and prosperous India," he said.
The President remarks assume significance in the context of repeated disruption of business on various issues, loss of time of Parliament and the stalling of legislative business in Rajya Sabha where the government lacks majority.
The 75-minute speech was heard in rapt attention by members in the central hall of Parliament and occasional thumping of desks, especially when he regretted the disruptions and appealed for smooth functioning of Parliament.
"Let noble thoughts come from all directions, should be the spirit behind the debate in this temple of democracy. Being a member of this great institution bestows great honour as well as important responsibilities," Mukherjee said.
Asserting that the government is fully committed to firmly dealing with all challenges concerning the security of the country, the President said terrorism is a global threat and strong counter-terrorism measures are necessary worldwide to eradicate it completely.
"Let me congratulate the security forces in successfully foiling the recent attack at the Pathankot air base by terrorists. Firm and effective steps will be taken to deal with any situation arising out of cross-border terrorism," he said.
"My government is committed to forging a mutually respectful relationship with Pakistan and in creating an environment of cooperation in combating cross border terrorism," Mukherjee said while referring to the government's foreign policy.
He said the government believes in a secure and prosperous future for the neighbourhood while committing itself to the principle of 'the world is one family'.
Elaborating on the focus of the government 'development for all' beyond just the economic advancements that dominate headlines, the President said the country must ensure that the poor and deprived were truly empowered to take advantage of opportunities to improve their lives.
"Development for all means that backward sections of society are equally valued and are genuine stakeholders in the country's progress. Development for all implies that we tackle the pollution, traffic, and garbage problems that plague our cities," he said.
Mukherjee said 'development for all' also meant development of the entire world which was why India has to be a responsible member of the global comity of nations helping humanity solve major challenges such as terrorism, climate change and financial instability.
He highlighted various social security schemes of the government and the steps taken by it to improve functioning of state-owned banks.
He also said the "concerted efforts" to tackle the menace of black money stashed abroad have started yielding results.
The government, the President said, has placed great emphasis on food security, Housing for All and subsidies so that they reach those who need them the most.
"My government has pledged to make this goal (removing poverty) possible through financial inclusion and social security, the two wings on which human aspiration takes flight," Mukherjee said.
The President said PMJDY has gone beyond mere opening of bank accounts to becoming a platform for poverty eradication by offering basic financial services and security to the poor.
"Today, I am proud to say it is the world's most successful financial inclusion programme. Under the programme, out of over 21 crore accounts opened, 15 crore accounts are operational with an aggregate deposit of over Rs 32,000 crore," he said.
On the black money front, the President said the government has enacted a law to deal with non-disclosure of foreign income and assets and thus has put in place a "stringent legislative framework" to combat the problem.
Mukherjee said over Rs 1 lakh crore have been disbursed to more than 2.6 crore borrowers under the PM Mudra Yojana, of which 2.07 crore are women entrepreneurs.
On revitalising public sector banks, Mukherjee said the 'Indradhanush' programme to infuse Rs 70,000 crore into state run lenders will ensure credit flow in the economy.