New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday addressed the joint session of both Houses of Parliament, focusing on the Narendra Modi government’s success on the terror front and the Balakot air strike, invoking thunderous applause.
But he remained silent on critical issues such as health care and farm distress that have claimed countless precious lives. Kovind barely laid a report card, eulogizing the Modi government’s achievements in the past five years.
Key Takeaways from the President’s speech and the issues that he ‘forgot’ to mention:
The President urged the newly elected MPs, 40 per cent of whom are facing criminal charges including murder and rape, to ensure the safety and security of women and work towards enhancing their dignity.
Harping on the mission objectives of ‘Beti-Bachao, Beti-Padhao’, Kovind called for making it a mass movement. But are our daughters any safer today, when sexual abuse against little ones including toddlers are on the rise?
According to national crime bureau records, cases involving rapes of minors have gone up from 8,541 in 2012 to 19,765 in 2016. In 2016 alone, 40 per cent of the rape victims in India were minors, half of them under 15 years of age.
The President said 26 lakh people have got free treatment under the Ayshmaan Bharat programme, but didn’t utter a word on the encephalitis deaths in NDA-ruled Bihar. As of now, about 156 children have succumbed to the disease. Nor did the President talk about the crumbling health infrastructure in the country.
On the higher education sector, the President said two crore more seats would be created by 2024 and enhanced focus will be laid on research. However, the fact remains that even after 72 years of independence, none of the Indian institutes figure in the top 100 global institutes. On the other hand, neighbouring China has at least 12 institutes in the top-100 list. This begs the question: Shouldn’t the focus be on quality higher education instead?
In his hour-long speech in Parliament, the President said the ‘Namami Ganga’ project will be replicated to clean up six other rivers in the country, including River Mahanadi in Odisha. The move is laudable. But has the government succeeded in cleaning up River Ganga five years after the programme was launched? The deadline has already been extended thrice and the revised target is now 2021.
“Till April 2019, projects worth Rs 28,451.29 crore had been sanctioned under Namami Gange. Work on these projects has not even been completed for one-fourth of the sanctioned costs,” said an analysis in ‘Down To Earth’ magazine.
The country is facing an acute water crisis. This found mention in the President’s speech when he said water conservation was imperative. But his speech had little to offer on interventions to achieve this. Chennai is reeling under an unprecedented water crisis and the situation next door in southern city Bengaluru is no better either.