Address To The Parliament


Hon'ble Members,

1. I have great pleasure in addressing this first session of both Houses of Parliament after the 12th General Election to the Lok Sabha. I extend my warm felicitations to the members of the new Lok Sabha.

2. I thank the Election Commission of India for conducting the General Election with despatch and efficiency.

3. The just concluded mid-term election reflected the firm conviction of our people in democratic processes of change. Contrary to forecasts that the turnout would be low, in fact, nearly 62 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise. The results are indicative of regional aspirations seeking a place in the national perspective. My Government will ensure the fulfilment of these aspirations even while looking after national interests.

4. Parliamentary arithmetic alone cannot provide the key to good governance. That key lies in the willingness of all to rise above notions of parliamentary majority and minority and work in a spirit of cooperation, conciliation and consensus. My Government, imbued with this spirit, will chart a new course in governance that seeks to unify and not divide: dialogue, debate and discussion will replace the narrow antagonisms of the past.

5. After the mid-term election, the nation now looks forward to a Government that will get down to business. This is precisely what the Government proposes to do: The most immediate tasks include the passage of the Supplementary Demands for 1997-98 and the Vote on Account for 1998-99. Thereafter, pending matters, including legislative business, will be taken up in right earnest.

6. Starting now, all our efforts will be directed at building a New India - an India free from the triple-curse of insecurity, hunger and corruption; an India free from illiteracy and disease; an India where more and more people are gainfully employed; an India where every citizen, irrespective of his caste, creed or faith, feels proud to be an Indian.

7. Secularism is integral to India's traditions. My Government is unequivocally committed to upholding our secular values.

8. My Government's top priority will be to reach out to the underprivileged and the unempowered. More than a third of our people live below the poverty line. An even larger number does not have access to basic education and health care facilities. This vast multitude must be facilitated to obtain its meaningful share in national prosperity.

9. Government proposes to accomplish this through the three-fold strategy of ensuring food security to every household by better targeting of the Public Distribution System, accelerating generation of employment opportunities in every sector of the economy and providing shelter to the largest possible number.

10. One of the weaknesses of socio-economic policies so far has been the less than adequate attention to the social sector. The Government is pledged to investing larger resources in social infrastructure. The commitment to progressively step up spending on education to 6 per cent of GDP will be fulfilled. Every effort shall be made to provide basic health facilities to all. Simultaneously, potable drinking water shall be made available in every village and habitat, within a specified time frame.

11. Our population growth rate is a matter of grave concern. The Government will soon formulate a National Population Policy which will aim at stabilising the population growth through, among other things, incentives and disincentives.

12. In a civil society, children are born to be happy. Unfortunately, large numbers of children in our society are born only to toil in factories, workshops and fields. My Government believes that children should be in schools.

Thank you

Jai Hind