Congress flags unemployment and poverty as lingering challenges


Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge speaks in the House during the Special Session at the new Parliament building on Tuesday. (ANI)

Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Congress’s floor leader in the Lok Sabha, on Tuesday underlined the challenges of unemployment and poverty that remain unaddressed in India.

Speaking in the Central Hall of Parliament, ahead of both Houses moving to the new building where the government introduced the women’s reservation bill, Chowdhury said: “India lags in the human development index. It ranks 131 among 189 nations…our per capita income is trailing.” The bulk of the country’s wealth is controlled by a significantly smaller percentage of people, he added.

Pointing out that India is not a homogenous country, he said the need of the hour was to maintain social harmony.

Kharge, too, reflected on the historic importance of Parliament and the Central Hall, and said there was a need to protect democracy, liberty and integrity. Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for recalling Jawaharlal Nehru’s “tryst with destiny” speech, Kharge said the collective and dedicated effort by parliamentarians across the party lines over the past seven and half decades has laid the foundation for India’s growth as a powerful democratic nation.

“Every nook and corner of the Parliament house has witnessed the evolution of our parliamentary democracy over the past 75 years,” he said, adding that the success of the institutions lies in upholding constitutional values and ideals. “The idea that institutions are sacrosanct and essential for success is a fundamental principle in governance and development,” Kharge said. “We should commit ourselves to adhering to and preserving the constitutional values and parliamentary traditions as the country moves ahead in effectively performing parliamentary duties and in our endeavours for the growth of our nation.”

Former Union minister, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and eight-time lawmaker, Maneka Gandhi, meanwhile, credited Modi’s efforts for women’s empowerment and campaign to prevent female foeticide for changing the “thought of the country” and in arresting the sex ratio from worsening. Gandhi said she was proud to be part of the moment when the government will be giving women an equal share in the country’s future.

Referring to the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign launched during her tenure as women and child development minister, she said the initiative was key in arresting the declining sex ratio and crores of girls were saved.

The campaign was launched in 2015 to create awareness about gender bias, improve the child sex ratio, ensure gender equality, prevent sex-selective elimination and encourage education and participation of the girl child.

“The PM sees people beyond a statistic,” Gandhi said, hailing the policy interventions and social welfare schemes oriented towards the empowerment of women.

“I am proud to be a part of this moment when the government, under leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji, has undertaken to repair the deep-rooted asymmetry, and to give an equal share in the future of India to all us women,” she said, speaking at a joint sitting of both Houses to commemorate the legacy of Parliament.

The senior most parliamentarian, Gandhi also traced her journey from becoming a lawmaker at the age of 32 in 1989 to becoming an eight-time MP. “I have seen seven Prime Ministers and shaping of grand history,” she said.

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