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February 15th, 2009


The conduct of our foreign policy has enhanced India's stature: President Patil

President Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil

President Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil said that the conduct of our foreign policy has enhanced India's stature in the world. She said this in her address at the joint session of Parliament in New Delhi on February 12. In her speech, the President detailed out the broad sweep of social sector programmes initiated by the Government in the last five years.

Excerpts from her address:

"We have been through an eventful year - a year that challenged our open society and our open economy. A year that tested by fire, the principles that our country has always lived by- communal amity, tolerance, compassion, justice and peaceful coexistence.

Looking back, we see hope. We have not only withstood the challenges but also emerged stronger. The spirit of ordinary people rising together as one overcame the challenge to our nation from terrorist violence. The calibrated and prudent economic reform pursued by our government is helping us to weather the extreme adversities of the global economic meltdown. The commitment to inclusive development articulated in the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP) has been translated into laws, policies and programmes by my government. A right to work for people in our rural areas was guaranteed through the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. The Unorganised Workers' Social Security Act, 2008, will facilitate provision of social security to 430 million unorganised workers. Through the Act on Right to Information, government has been held accountable to citizens for governance.

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, which now covers the whole country, is the first such intervention anywhere in the world where a country has guaranteed employment for a specified number of days to any category of citizens. In 2007-08, nearly 34 million rural households were provided employment under this programme. This programme is keenly watched all over the world as an Indian innovation in combining the twin objectives of providing for consumption expenditure of the poor as well as improving rural productivityand income. As India is entering the sixtieth year of the republic, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is moving India towards a Republic of Work.

My government promised a new deal to rural India through the revival of agriculture on which nearly 60 percent of our population is dependent. Through carefully crafted policies in the agricultural sector we have been able to revive our agricultural economy from the trap of low investment, low productivity and rural indebtedness. My government waived around Rs.650 billion of outstanding credit owed by 37 million farmers.

Rapid growth in industry, and services, is essential to provide the avenues for employment required by our youth. My government has put in place appropriate policies, which have promoted growth and employment opportunities. In particular, my government enacted the Special Economic Zones Act, which has already facilitated incremental investment of Rs.900 billion, and generated direct and indirect employment for over 7 million people.

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Britain participates in Aero India 2009

The Sarang helicopter team of Indian Air Force

Britain participated in the seventh Aero India 2009, Asia's premier air show, with 33 British companies showcasing their aviation products. The air show took off to a roaring start on February 11 in Bangalore. Billed as the biggest biennial event in South Asia, the five-day-long mega event began on a sunny and breezy day from the Indian Air Force (IAF) station at Yelahanka, about 20 km from Bangalore.

Inaugurated by Defence Minister A.K. Antony, as many as 25 countries including Britain participated in the mega event. A total of 592 firms - 303 from overseas and 289 from the Indian subcontinent - displayed their products and technologies spanning military and civilian sectors. The participating countries include Britain, United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Israel, Malaysia, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands and Ukraine.

A dozen global aerospace firms, including British aircraft manufacturer BAE, flew in their fighter jets, transport planes, a fleet of helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles for flying and static displays at the event.

Earlier, the Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC) on the eve of the Aero India air show,announced its intention to open an office in Bangalore to assist U.K. aerospace and advanced engineering companies, in particular SMEs, to access the vibrant and rapidly growing market in India.

The U.K. Advanced Engineering Regional Office (AERO) is supported by U.K. Trade & Investment (UKTI) as well as other trade associations and devolved U.K. administrations. Ian Godden, SBAC Chief Executive, said: "India is a vital, rapidly growing market for U.K. aerospace businesses that was worth $20 million in 2007 but is expected to grow to $2 billion by 2015.

"Aerospace in the U.K. is a national success story and provides high-quality careers in engineering and manufacturing. Exporting is one of our strengths, providing a positive balance of trade for the country. We look forward to assisting U.K. companies to access excellent opportunities to partner with businesses in India to deliver benefits to both countries, their businesses, their economies and their populations.

"We have 33 British companies here at AeroIndia 2009 in Bangalore and this presence further demonstrates the importance that the market and the country have for Britiash firms. Assistance from UKTI has been invaluable in establishing the office and in bringing some of the U.K. businesses to Aero India," he added.

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