New Delhi, Feb 25 (UNI) President Pratibha Devisingh Patil today assured Parliament that the UPA government would sustain the economic growth rate at 9 per cent, while keeping the prices of essential commodities under check and remaining fully alive to the threat of terrorism and extremism.
Addressing a joint sitting of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, marking the beginning of the Budget session, Ms Patil expressed the hope that the Indo-US nuclear agreement would be implemented.
The continued endeavour of ''my government'' would be to ''sustain growth while keeping prices under check'' and ensure that the economic development was ''socially inclusive, regionally balanced and environmentally sustainable,'' Ms Patil said.
Presenting a long list of the achievements of the nearly four-year-old government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the President said the overall internal security situation remained under control.
''My government is fully alive to the threat of terrorism and Left-wing extremism. The entire nation stood as one in condemning inhuman acts of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Assam,'' she said.
Further, the government would remain ''ever vigilant'' against the machinations of any anti-social and anti-national groups seeking to disrupt law and order, communal harmony and the unity and integrity of the country, she said without referring to the recent violence in Maharashtra against migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Also, there was no reference in her address to the proposal for providing reservation for women in Parliament and state assemblies. ''Women hold up half the sky,'' she said, asserting that empowerment of women through female literacy was the single biggest challenge of the government in the social sector.
Touching upon the sensitive issue of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), she said SEZs had already provided direct employment to about 100,000 people, with indirect employment estimated at twice as much. ''They have attracted investment of over Rs 50,000 crore, and are expected to generate exports of Rs 67,000 crore this year.'' On India's relations with Pakistan and other neighbours, she said ''our goal remains a peaceful, stable and prsperous neighbourhood.'' More UNI SN RP DS1145