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Narendra Modi Government's 10 Economic Agendas That Stood Out In President's Speech

Narendra Modi Government's 10 Economic Agendas That Stood Out In President's Speech
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, whose agenda was highlighted by President Pranab Mukherjee in the Parliament on Monday, has outlined a series of measures and reforms, which it hopes will help the Indian economy achieve its potential of high growth.

India's economy has been stuck in a rut of low sub-5 percent growth levels and a sticky inflation. The President has said that putting the Indian economy back on track is paramount for the Modi government.

"On the economic front, we are passing through an extremely difficult phase. For two consecutive years, our GDP growth has been less than 5 per cent. Tax collection has declined. Inflation continues to be at an unacceptable level. Thus, putting the Indian economy back on track is paramount for my government," he said in his address to a Joint Parliament session. "We will work together to usher our economy into a high growth path, rein in inflation, reignite the investment cycle, accelerate job creation and restore the confidence of the domestic as well as international community in our economy," Mukherjee said.

"My government is committed to nurturing the right environment for actualizing this mandate of the people. For this, it pledges itself to the principle of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas'; which can be fulfilled only through your active participation," the President said. "We will work together to re-establish the credibility of the institutions of democracy. My government will function on the mantra of 'Minimum Government, Maximum Governance'. In all our actions, we will be guided by the core values of our great civilization," he added.

Mukherjee's address spelt out the government's priorities on various issues ranging from reducing inflation and poverty to rebooting the economy to ensure inclusive growth. We take a look at 10 economic agendas that stood out:

1) Poverty elimination: According to Mukherjee, the government is dedicated towards poverty elimination. "The greatest challenge before us is to end the curse of poverty in India. My government will not be satisfied with mere "poverty alleviation"; and commits itself to the goal of "poverty elimination". With a firm belief that the first claim on development belongs to the poor; the government will focus its attention on those who need the basic necessities of life most urgently. It will take necessary steps to provide security in its entirety to all citizens; through empathy, support and empowerment."

2) Containing food inflation: Keeping a check on food inflation has been of utmost importance for both the RBI and government. For the same the government has suggested supply-side measures. "Containing food inflation will be the topmost priority for my government. There would be an emphasis on improving the supply side of various agro and agro-based products. My government will take effective steps to prevent hoarding and black marketing," Mukherjee said.

"It will reform the Public Distribution System, incorporating best practices from the States. My government is alert about the possibility of a subnormal monsoon this year and contingency plans are being prepared," he explained.

3) Agriculture: Agriculture is the source of livelihood for majority of people. "The government will increase investment in agriculture, both public and private, especially in Agri-infrastructure. Steps will be taken to convert farming into a profitable venture through scientific practices and Agro-technology," he said.

"My government will address issues pertaining to pricing and procurement of agricultural produce, crop insurance and post-harvest management. Productivity of Animal Husbandry will be increased. My government will incentivize the setting up of food processing industries," Mukherjee said. "Existing cooperative sector laws will be reviewed to remove anomalies and lacunae. My government will adopt a National Land Use Policy which will facilitate scientific identification of non-cultivable land and its strategic development," he added.

4) Federal structure: Greater co-operation between the state and the central governments has always featured in Narendra Modi's list of measures. His government has stressed on the same in its agenda. "The States and the Centre should function as an organic Team India. In order to actively engage with the States on national issues, my government will reinvigorate fora like the National Development Council and the Inter-State Council. The Centre will be an enabler in the rapid progress of States through Cooperative Federalism," Mukherjee said.

5) Transparent systems and timebound delivery of government services: According to Mukherjee, the government is committed to providing a clean and efficient administration focussed on delivery. "My government will take steps to build the confidence and morale of our bureaucracy; enabling it with the freedom to work, and welcoming innovative ideas. The government will stress on putting in place transparent systems and timebound delivery of government services."

"Government systems and processes will be revisited to make them citizen friendly, corruption free and accountable. Efforts will be made to eliminate obsolete laws, regulations, administrative structures and practices. Rationalization and convergence among Ministries, Departments and other arms of the government will be ensured to have focussed delivery. Digitization of government records will be done for improving accessibility."

6) E-governance: E-governance brings empowerment, equity and efficiency, feels the new government. "The backbone of my government's new ways of working will be a Digital India. The National e-governance plan will be expanded to cover every government office from the centre to the Panchayat; to provide a wide variety of services to citizens. Emerging technologies like Social Media will be used as a tool for; participative governance, directly engaging the people in policy making and administration."

7) Ease of doing business: The government aims to create a policy environment which is predictable, transparent and fair. It will embark on rationalisation and simplification of the tax regime to make it non-adversarial and conducive to investment, enterprise and growth.

"My government will make every effort to introduce the GST while addressing the concerns of States. Reforms will be undertaken to enhance the ease of doing business. My government will follow a policy of encouraging investments, including through FDI; which will be allowed in sectors that help create jobs and assets," the President said.

8) Job creation: In a country favoured by a young population, creating employment opportunities is very important. For the same, the government wants to strategically promote labour-intensive manufacturing.

"Employment opportunities will also be expanded by promoting tourism and agro-based industries. My government will transform Employment Exchanges into Career Centres - connecting our youth with job opportunities in a transparent and effective manner through the use of technology as well as through counselling and training," he said. "The government will strengthen the pension and health insurance safety nets for labour force of all categories and would provide them access to modern financial services," he added.

9) Infrastructure: For any nation, development of infrastructure is essential to ensure growth. India has lagged on this front for some time now and the Modi government plans to give a major push to infrastructure.

"The government will chalk out an ambitious infrastructure development programme to be implemented in the next 10 years. A fast-track, investment friendly and predictable PPP mechanism will be put in place. Modernization and revamping of Railways is on top of the infrastructure agenda. My government will launch a Diamond Quadrilateral project of high speed trains," Mukherjee said.

"The country will have a network of freight corridors with specialised Agri-Rail networks for perishable agricultural products. Investment in railways will be increased using innovative financing methods. Expansion of railways in Hilly States and Northeast region and modernization of rail safety systems will be prime focus areas. We will encourage R&D and high level local manufacturing for railway systems."

10) Tourism & Culture: India has a vast untapped potential for tourism which can play a special role in our socio-economic progress. "The government will initiate a mission mode project to create 50 tourist circuits that are built around specific themes. With a view to encouraging pilgrimage tourism, a National Mission for beautifying and improving the amenities and infrastructure at pilgrimage centres of all faiths will be launched."