The Budget Session of Parliament commences on Friday with President Ram Nath Kovind's address. As per the set tradition, the President addressed the joint sitting of Parliament at the Central Hall. The speech highlighted the government's plan and policy vision for the next financial year. He also highlighted the work carried out by the government in the past years.
The first part of the Budget Session is scheduled to conclude on February 15 while the second part will commence on March 8 and is expected to end on April 8. Given the Covid-19 outbreak, Parliament will sit in two shifts. The morning session is dedicated to the Rajya Sabha while the Lok Sabha will sit in the evening. The Rajya Sabha will sit from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., while the Lok Sabha will sit from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
While 144 MPs will be seated in the Central Hall including the Council of Ministers, leaders of different parties and groups in both the Houses, former Prime Ministers and national presidents of BJP and Congress. The remaining members of Parliament will be seated in the chambers of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha as per the Covid induced physical distancing norms. The government has convened an all party meeting on Saturday to seek support of political parties to ensure smooth conduct of business in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu has also called a meeting of leaders of all parties in the Upper House.
President's addres - Highlights
* Kevadia, which holds the pride of the world's tallest Sardar Patel statue, has now started running trains directly from many cities of the country.
* In June last year, 20 soldiers made supreme sacrifice in Galwan Valley. Every countryman is grateful to these martyrs. Govt is committed to protect country's interests; additional troops deployed to protect India's sovereignty along LAC: President
* To modernize the country's infrastructure, my government is also working on a National Infrastructure Pipeline worth more than Rs 110 lakh crore. Also, construction of six new expressways and 18 new access controlled corridors are underway in the first phase of the Bharatmala project.
* For the first time, a production linked incentive scheme of about Rs 1.5 lakh crore has been implemented in the country for 10 sectors related to manufacturing. Its benefits have started showing in the manufacturing of many other goods including electronics.
* Earlier governments also tried to build a new Parliament building. It is a happy coincidence that moving towards the 75th year of independence, our country has started construction of the new Parliament building. With the formation of new Parliament House, every member will get more facility to fulfill his parliamentary obligations.
* Development of modern technology in India and easy access to modern technology of every Indian is an important identity of India becoming self-sufficient. Digital payments of more than Rs 4 lakh crore have been made from UPI in December last year. Today more than 200 banks of the country are connected with the UPI system.
National Education Policy
* For the first time in the National Education Policy, the students have been given freedom to read the subject according to their interest. Youngsters have been given the option to change the subject and stream even in the middle of a course. More than 3 crore 20 lakh students are getting the benefit of various scholarship schemes of the government. These include students belonging to scheduled castes, backward classes, forest dwellers and tribal classes and minority communities.
* Women entrepreneurs have a special role in self-reliant India movement. My government has taken several steps to give new employment opportunities to women. So far more than 25 crore loans have been given under the Mudra scheme, out of which about 70 percent loans have been given to women entrepreneurs. Under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana - National Rural Livelihood Mission, today more than 7 crore women entrepreneurs are associated with about 66 lakh self-help groups. Through the banks, these women groups have been given a loan of Rs 3 lakh 40 thousand crore in the last 6 years. Keeping in mind the health of women working in rural areas of the country, the government is also running a scheme to provide 'Suvidha' sanitary napkins in one rupee.
* Efforts such as Rs 3 lakh emergency credit guarantee scheme, Rs 20,000 crore special scheme for the stranded MSMEs and the Fund of Funds have benefitted millions of small entrepreneurs. The MSMEs of far flung areas of the country are getting more participation as well as transparency in government procurement from the GeM portal.
* Under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, construction of 6 lakh 42 thousand km of roads in rural areas of the country has been completed.
* Improvement in the standard of living of the people of the village is my government's priority. The best example of this is 2 crore houses built for poor rural families since 2014. The pace of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana has also been accelerated to provide a solid roof to every poor by the year 2022.
* The government has also set up an animal husbandry infrastructure development fund of 15 thousand crores to encourage the establishment of infrastructure and investment in the dairy sector. Under the Pradhan Mantri Kusum Yojana, 20 lakh solar pumps are being given to the farmers. The production of ethanol from sugarcane, maize, paddy etc. has also been encouraged by the government. Due to the positive policies of the government in the last 6 years, the production of ethanol has increased from 38 crore liters to 190 crore liters.
* To make agriculture more profitable, my government is also paying special attention to modern agricultural infrastructure. For this, one lakh crore rupees agricultural infrastructure fund has been started. Kisan Rail introduced across the country is writing a new chapter in providing new markets to the farmers of India. So far, more than 100 farmer trains have been run through which more than 38 thousand tons of grains and fruits and vegetables have been sent by farmers from one region to another.
* The insult of Tricolour on Republic Day is very unfortunate. The Constitution that gives us the right to freedom of expression, also teaches us that law and rule should be followed.
* Farm Laws
After extensive deliberations, the Parliament passed three important farm reforms. The agri reforms will benefit more than 10 crore small farmers immediately. Many political parties had given full support to these reforms from time to time only after realizing these benefits to small farmers. At present, the implementation of these laws has been stayed by the country's highest court. My government will respect and follow the Supreme Court's decision in full respect.
* The facilities of Ayushman Bharat Yojana can be availed in any of the 24,000 hospitals across the nation. The poor are getting medicines at very low costs at 7000 centres across the country, under Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana: President
* It is a matter of pride that India is running the biggest vaccination program in the world. Both vaccines of this program are made in India. In this crisis India shouldered its responsibility towards mankind and provided lakhs of doses of vaccines to several nations: President
* President Kovind condoles the death of Pranab Mukherjee and six members of Parliament who passed away during the Covid-19 pandemic.
* Whenever India is united, it has achieved impossible goals, says President Kovind addressing joint sitting of Parliament
* The timely action taken by the government to curb the spread of coronavirus has saved many lives: President
11:06 AM: Joint session of Parliament amid Corona pandemic is essential. It is a new year and a new decade and we are also entering into the 75th year of independence. Today all MPs are present here with message and trust that however tough be the challenge neither we nor India will stop: President
11:05 AM: The Budget session is being held at a challenging time of COVID-19, says President Ram Nath Kovind addressing joint sitting of Parliament
11 AM: President arrives at the Parliament
Meanwhile, the Budget session is likely to witness acrimonious scenes, with the opposition parties staying away from the President's address. They have prepred a strategy to corner the government on issues like farmer protest, recession, job losses, handling of COVID crisis and LAC stand-off with China. A total of 18 Opposition parties including the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, National Conference, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Trinamool Congress, Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Communist Party of India (Marxist), CPI, Indian Union Muslim League, RSP, Peoples Democratic Party, MDMK, Kerala Congress (M) and the All India United Democratic Front have announced to boycott the President's address. The Shiromani Akali Dal and Aam Aadmi Party also separately announced their decision of boycotting the address. There are over 20 opposition parties in Parliament.
The President's address will be followed by the presentation of the Economic Survey. The Union Budget will be presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1. Both the Houses will also debate on the Motion of thanks to the President's address after the budget presentation.
The session will be held in two parts --January 29 to February 15 and March 8 to April 8 and will have a total of 33 sittings.