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June 15st, 2009

President unveils government agenda: Reviving economy, inclusive growth top priority

President Pratibha Devisingh Patil

President Pratibha Patil on June 4 outlined the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government's broad agenda for the next five years, with economic revival, inclusive economy, infrastructure development, financial sector reforms and divestments in state-run enterprises being accorded high priority.

"Our immediate priority must be to focus on management of the economy that will counter the effect of the global slowdown by a combination of sectoral and macro-level policies," Patil said during her address to a joint session of Parliament.

Highlights of the Address: "I am extremely happy to address the first session of both Houses of Parliament after the elections to the 15th Lok Sabha.

In 2004 my Government had set before the country a vision of an inclusive society and an inclusive economy. It worked diligently towards translating this vision into policies and programmes. My Government sees the overwhelming mandate it has received as a vindication of the policy architecture of inclusion that it put in place. It is a mandate for inclusive growth, equitable development and a secular and plural India. My Government is determined to work harder and better to realize these goals.

A continuing priority of my Government would be to consolidate the ongoing flagship programmes for inclusion. This will require re-energising government and improving governance. It will require meeting the challenge of restoring economic growth, which is now hurt by the global economic slowdown, back to a higher growth path.

High growth is necessary to provide the government the capacity to expand opportunities for employment. It is necessary to provide resources to increase outlays in education, health care and infrastructure to meet the needs of all regions and all people.

My Government will ensure that the growth process is not only accelerated but also made socially and regionally more inclusive and equitable. The yearning of our people for inclusiveness - economic, social and cultural - and, the rejection of the forces of divisiveness and intolerance that my Government spoke of in 2004 continues as both its inspiring vision and its unfinished business.

My Government is acutely conscious of the challenge of rising expectations. There would be ten broad areas of priority for my Government for the next five years.

  • Internal security and preservation of communal harmony;
  • Stepping up of economic growth in agriculture, manufacturing and services;
  • Consolidation of the existing flagship programmes for employment, education, health, rural infrastructure, urban renewal and introduction of new flagship programmes for food security and skill development;
  • Concerted action for the welfare of women, youth, children, other backward classes, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, minorities, the differentlyabled and the elderly along with strengthened social protection;
  • Governance reform;
  • Creation and modernization of infrastructure and capacity addition in key sectors;
  • Prudent fiscal management;
  • Energy security and environment protection;
  • Constructive and creative engagement with the world."

For the complete text of the President's speech, click http://www.president ofindia.

Meira Kumar is India's first woman Speaker

Meira Kumar

History was made on June 3, when diplomat-turned-politician Meira Kumar became the first woman speaker of the Indian Parliament. The 64-year-old Congress leader from Bihar was chosen for the post of Speaker of the Lok Sabha, a key constitutional post, after party president Sonia Gandhi proposed her name. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani together led her to the podium and later paid tributes to a woman who quit the coveted Indian Foreign Service (IFS) in 1985 to join the Congress, a party of which her father, the late Jagjivan Ram, was a revered leader. "In many ways it is a historic event as it is for the first time that a Congress woman member of house has been unanimously elected as speaker," Dr. Manmohan Singh said. The Lok Sabha speaker's status in the Warrant of Precedence is next only to the president, vice president and prime minister. Meira Kumar is the 16th speaker of the Lok Sabha.

A graduate of Delhi University, Meira Kumar joined the IFS in 1973 and served in the Indian missions in Spain, Britain and Mauritius. She took to politics in 1985 when Congress leader Rajiv Gandhi was prime minister. She was elected to the Lok Sabha twice from the Karol Bagh constituency in the national capital.


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India to engage with world in countering terror - EAM

External Affairs Minister S.M Krishna

In his first interaction with the diplomatic corps in the Indian capital since assuming office, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on June 8 underscored India's pursuit of an independent and non-aligned foreign policy of peace and development that befits its stature as a responsible power.

Placing India's foreign policy in the larger context of national goals, Krishna said the government was committed to "all-round, inclusive growth", and stressed that "a peaceful extended neighbourhood and a supportive international environment" were essential to achieving this overarching objective.

"India, as a responsible power, does and will engage actively with the world, while pursuing an independent and non-aligned foreign policy of peace and development, as well as strengthening her strategic autonomy," Krishna told the assembled diplomats at Hyderabad House in New Delhi.

Highlights of the speech: "It gives me great pleasure to have this opportunity to meet all of you today.

Your presence today is evidence of the friendship and partnership between India and the international community. Our Government is committed to working with each of your countries for shared peace, prosperity and security.

Excellencies, India has changed significantly since the launch of bold economic reforms to unleash her economic potential. India is today the fourth largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power parity.

Continues on Page 2


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