Vision 2020...Transforming India into a developed nation
I extend a warm welcome to you at this first session of Parliament in 2003. This is my first Address to Parliament at the start of the Budget Session.
Let me first welcome the newly elected Members of the Rajya Sabha, as also of the Lok Sabha. I congratulate the people of Jammu and Kashmir who, in the October elections to the State Assembly, replied to the threat of the bullet with the power of the ballot. The entire Nation is grateful to our Armed Forces, Paramilitary Forces, and Police Forces for their dedicated service under extremely trying conditions. We pay our homage to those who became martyrs in the call of their duty.
Today I would like all of you to join me in paying tribute to Kalpana Chawla and her six fellow astronauts, who died in the tragic break-up of Space Shuttle Columbia minutes before its touchdown on February 1. The remarkable journey of courage and determination that made this Indian woman, hailing from a small town in Haryana, a Citizen of the Milky Way will remain a source of pride for all Bharatvasis and Bharatvanshis. It will also inspire young Indians, especially women, to dream big and to work hard to realize their dreams. I commend ISRO’s gesture in naming the METSAT series of satellites after Kalpana Chawla.
This is the first session of Parliament after the National Development Council adopted the Tenth Five-Year Plan. The Plan aims at accomplishing faster economic growth with a stronger thrust on employment generation and equity. It has set the target of 8 percent annual average GDP growth rate during the Plan period, with a companion target of 5 crore additional employment and self-employment opportunities. The Plan convincingly explains why these ambitious goals are achievable. It has distinguished itself from the previous Plans by underscoring that it is not merely a Resources Plan, but a Reforms Plan. It has deepened the domain of economic reforms by, especially, providing reforms-linked incentives to State Governments. It has also broadened the agenda of reforms by showing the categorical imperative to remove numerous non-financial barriers to faster development through reforms in civil service, judiciary, education, and above all, in governance at all levels—at the Centre, States, and Panchayati Raj Institutions. I would especially like to draw the attention of the Union and State Governments to the detailed list, contained in the Plan document, of the legislative and administrative initiatives needed to translate the Tenth Plan’s goals and targets into reality.
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