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Mr. Speaker Sir, 42 months after this Government came into office, we have this Motion of Confidence moved by the hon. Prime Minister.
I have listened very carefully the whole of yesterday to the speeches led by the speech of the Leader of the Opposition and many other hon. Members.
Sir, this Government did not move a Motion of Confidence when it was first sworn in office. It is widely accepted that this Government enjoyed a clear majority. The withdrawal of support by the Left Parties created a situation where despite the numbers, the numbers were easily demonstrated by simple arithmetic by the hon. External Affairs Minister yesterday, a question arose whether this Government enjoyed the confidence of this House or not.
Sir, the Prime Minister offered to move the motion and he has moved the motion with a brief but eloquent speech.
My good friend, Mr. Salim said that we have moved away from six basic principles of the Common Minimum Programme. If I have the time, I would deal with each one of the six, but since I have limited time today, there are many other hon. Members, like Mr. Malhotra, who will be speaking, let me deal with two of the more important of the six principles.
The first is that this Government will ensure that the economy grows at least seven to eight per cent per year in a sustained manner. After 42 months what is the position? The economy has grown at an average of 8.9 per cent in the first four years. Compare this with the average of 5.8 per cent during the six years of NDA Government. We came into office towards the end of the Tenth Plan. The target for the Tenth Plan was eight per cent. It is because the economy grew at 9.4 per cent in 2005-06 and 9.6 per cent in 2006-07 that we were able to achieve an average growth rate for the Tenth Plan of 7.8 per cent, which was nearly close to the target of eight per cent. The Eleventh Plan began in 2007-08. There were prophets of gloom and doom. I had always maintained that in 2007-08 we will grow close to nine per cent.
Actually, when the revised agricultural estimates have come in, the growth in 2007-08 is close to 9.1 per cent. We have made a resounding start of the Eleventh Plan and I am confident that we can redeem our promise to grow at over seven to eight per cent.
Sir, I wish to make a special mention of agriculture. The year 2007-08 is a watershed year in India's agricultural history. Food grains production has registered an all time record of 230.7 million tonnes. Of this, rice production was 96.43 million tonnes, which is a record; wheat production is 78.4 million tonnes, which is a record; coarse cereals was 40.7 million tonnes, which is a record; pulses was 15.1 million tonnes, which is a record; oil seeds was 28.87 million tonnes, which is a record.
Cotton was 25.81 million bales, which is a record. How did this come about? This came about through farsighted plans, missionary approach and attention to details. This Government launched the National Horticulture Mission. This Government undertook renovation, repair and restoration of water bodies. This Government appointed the Vaidyanathan Committee for reviving cooperative credit institutions. This Government launched a mission for pulses. This Government set up the Rainfed Area Development Authority. This Government launched the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana for Rs. 25,000 crore and the National Food Security Mission for Rs. 4,882 crore. Under this Government's charge, capital formation in agriculture has increased from 10.2 per cent in 2003-04 to 12.5 per cent in 2006-07.
In the first four years, we have sanctioned proposals for Rs. 50,000 crore under RIDF and the corpus for the current year is Rs. 18,000 crore. So, I ask, Sir, respectfully, show me any other four year period in the history of independent India where so much has been done for agriculture. This is a difficult year. I promise you, even in this difficult year, we will achieve a growth rate which is better than what was promised in the CMP. That will be a growth rate far better than what is achieved in the six years of the NDA Government.
Another of the six principles was to enhance the welfare and well-being of farmers, farm labour and workers, particularly those in the unorganized sector. No Government has done more for farmers than this Government. I recognize that some farmers take extreme step of committing suicide. It was so ten years ago; it was so four years ago. Every suicide is a blot. Whenever there is a suicide, we have to hang our heads in shame. We have, therefore, addressed the needs of farmers in a systematic way. We are confident on that. While some results are visible, more results will be visible.
Sir, farm credit has increased from Rs. 86,000 crore in 2003-04 to Rs. 2,50,000 crore in 2007-08. This year, the target is Rs. 2,80,000 crore; but we will exceed the target. In order to take care of farm labour, who do not get work throughout the year, we introduced the NREG Scheme. In less than 15 months, the Scheme has been rolled out to all the 597 rural districts of India. Why did the NDA not introduce the NREG Scheme? A paltry amount of Rs. 75 was given as old-age pension. We raised it to Rs. 200 a month. We have removed the condition that they must be a destitute. We persuaded the State Governments to match it by another Rs. 200. Why did the NDA turn a blind eye to the suffering of old people?
For unorganized workers, there is a path-breaking Bill before Parliament. We are debating the Bill. We have not yet resolved the differences of the Bill. Yet, even before the Bill was passed, we introduced Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana which would provide death and disability insurance to the poor. By October 1, we will enroll one crore people. The Swasthya Bima Yojana would provide medical cover to the poor; 11 States have signed it up. The Janashree Bima Yojana would provide health and life cover to millions of women who are members of self-help groups. So, why did the NDA not introduce a single scheme for the unorganised sector?
Finally, never before in the history of this country, has any Government undertaken a loan waiver scheme of the size and scale that has been undertaken by this Government. I am happy to report to this House that on the basis of data gathered from the participating financial institutions, these are our conclusions. Debt waivers have been granted for a sum of Rs. 50,254 crore. Debt relief has been granted for a sum of Rs. 16,223 crore. Thus, the total amount of debt waiver and debt relief is Rs. 66,477 crore.
Sir, the total amount, I repeat, granted under debt waiver and debt relief is Rs. 66,477 crore. Among the beneficiaries, the number of small and marginal farmers is 2,98,05,305, and the number of other farmers is 65,81,818. Thus the total number of beneficiaries is 3,63,00,000.
Sir, the hon. Members will note that I have more than fulfilled my promise made to this House. But for the loan waiver and debt relief, these three crore and sixty-three lakh farmers would not have been entitled for loans, and they are being given loans. That is reflected in the increase in the sowing area, and that would be reflected eventually in the increase in food production at the end of the year.
Sir, this debate naturally turns on an agreement that we have signed with the US. We should remember that India signed agreements not with just one country. It has signed agreements with more than one country. We have signed an agreement with the US, we have signed an agreement with France, and we have signed an agreement with Russia. As the External Affairs has said, we need to cross two stages before we can operationalize any of these agreements. The first is the safeguards agreement of the IAEA, and the second is the waiver from the NSG.
Questions were asked about the 123 Agreement and the Hyde Act. Let me explain the terms which I understand, and I would earnestly request the hon. Members to just lend me his ears for a couple of minutes. These are not very complicated legal issues.
In 1954, the U.S. adopted the Atomic Energy Act. That Act prohibits the US from cooperating on nuclear matters with any country until certain conditions are fulfilled. Section 123 authorizes the President of the US to exempt the proposed agreement from the conditions. That is why, this agreement is called '123 Agreement'. The Hyde Act was passed in 2006 and it became the law in December, 2006. Please mark the date. The 123 Agreement text was agreed between India and the US on August 1, 2007.
So, the 123 Agreement is an agreement after the Hyde Act came into force. In the US, it is a well-accepted Constitutional principle, well enshrined that while passing a Bill into law, the President may issue a signed statement asserting his Constitutional prerogative powers and refusing to abide by any provisions of the US Act.
We are not concerned with the provisions of the US Act nor are we concerned with what the US President said. That is their domestic matter. But the fact is that the US President issued a signed statement when he signed the Hyde Act into law. Six months later, we agreed to the text of the 123 Agreement. The question is, what is the status of the 123 Agreement. In the US, the status is quite clear. Every US commentator, every US newspaper, every analyst has said that the 123 Agreement is not inconsistent with the Hyde Act because, according to the White House, when properly construed, the later 123 Agreement nearly flushes out the details for the US-India Nuclear Cooperation, and then the 123 Agreement dwells upon the exceptions carved out in the Hyde Act, and once the Congress approves the 123 Agreement, then the Agreement and the Agreement alone, will delineate the specific rights and responsibilities of the US and India as a prevailing law that governs and controls the Agreement.
Now, look at it from our point of view. This is the US interpretation; this is the interpretation, which I rely upon because that is the way the US looks at it. The 123 Agreement alone will delineate the rights and responsibilities of the parties. Look at the way that we can look at it from the Indian law point of view. The 123 Agreement is, according to Article 2.5 and I urge you to read it "to enable full civil nuclear energy cooperation between the parties." Please underline the words 'to enable'. It is an agreement to enable full civil nuclear energy cooperation between the parties. It contemplates such cooperation on an industrial scale or a commercial scale. Under Article 16, the Agreement enters into force on a date on which the parties will exchange diplomatic notes, informing each other that they have completed all applicable requirements. The legal status of the 123 Agreement is that it has not yet entered into force. It will enter into force after India and the United States notify each other; and they can do so only after completing all applicable requirements. It is, therefore, an enabling agreement. And, even after it enters into force, you would have to enter into further agreements for industrial or commercial scale cooperation in nuclear energy.
The next question is: How do you interpret under our law and international law, the 123 Agreement and any earlier agreements? Article 16.4 of the 123 Agreement says: "The Agreement shall be implemented in good faith and in accordance with the principles of the international law." Please underline that. The Agreement shall be interpreted and implemented in accordance with the principles of the international law. Under the customary international law as well as the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, any party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a Treaty. The 123 Agreement is a Treaty. The Hyde Act is an internal law. You cannot invoke the Hyde Act in order to refuse to perform your obligations under a Treaty.
And further more, when the 123 Agreement is ratified by the US Congress, it is up or down vote, it is ratified by the US Congress, it will be the last expression of the Legislature on the subject and under principle, which is known to every lawyer, the last expression of the Legislature will prevail over any earlier law passed by the same Legislature.
Besides, under Article 6(2) of the US Constitution, all treaties made or which shall be made under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land. In any view of the matter, the Hyde Act does not bind India. It cannot interfere with the implementation of 123 Agreement. The 123 Agreement alone will delineate the rights and responsibilities between India and the US. It will be the last expression of the Legislature, and under the Vienna Convention, we are bound only by the 123 Agreement.
The UPA-Left Committee held nine meetings between September 11, 2007 and June 6, 2008. At the fourth meeting on October 9, 2007, the CPI(M)'s Members noted that the Left Parties were not opposed to a safeguards agreement on principle just as they have not been opposed to the separation plan.
Their objection continued to be to the 123 Agreement. This issue was discussed at the fifth meeting on October, 22, 2007 and at the sixth meeting on November, 16, 2007. At the sixth meeting, after the exchanges, it was decided that the impact of the provisions of the Hyde Act and the 123 Agreement on the IAEA Safeguards Agreement would have to be examined, and since it requires talks with the IAEA Secretariat for working out the text of an India-Specific Safeguards Agreement, the Government will proceed with the talks and the outcome will be presented to the Committee. That is precisely what this Government has done.
It went to the IAEA Secretariat for talks. It agreed upon a text. It froze that text. We came back to the Committee on March, 17, May 6 and June 25, and we have reported the outcome of the talks to the Committee. We have done nothing in a non-transparent manner. We have done it in the most transparent manner. We have taken everybody on board and we have told them that this is the outcome of the talks, and now the text is available. The ISSA text is available.
None of my comrades were members of the Committee. We know what happened in the Committee. We have said the ISSA text will be made available on the same day it is circulated officially to the Members of the IAEA Board. When we decided to go forward and circulate it to the Members of the IAEA Board, on the same day it was made available in India. The text is now available in India.
Sir, the short question is - does India want to end the nuclear isolation which we find ourselves since 1974, more so since 1998? What did the hon. Prime Minister Shri Vajpayee say in the United Nations General Assembly? I quote. After referring to the tests he said : "These tests do not signal a dilution of India's commitment to the pursuit of nuclear disarmament. Accordingly, after concluding this limited testing programme, India announced" - India, the Government of Mr. Vajpayee announced - "a voluntary moratorium on further underground nuclear test explosions".
"We conveyed our willingness to move towards a de jure formalization of this obligation in announcing a moratorium. India has already accepted the basic obligation of the CTBT. India is now engaged in discussions with our key interlocutors on a range of issues including the CTBT. We are prepared to bring these discussions to a successful conclusion so that the entry into force of the CTBT is not delayed beyond September, 1999."
Then he came to this House and made a statement on 15th December, 1998. He says : "This House will be reassured that in the assessment of our scientists this stand" - that is converting our voluntary moratorium into a de jure obligation - "does not come in the way of our taking such steps as may be found necessary in future to safeguard our national security. It also does not constrain us from continuing with our R&D programmes nor does it jeopardise in any manner the safety and effectiveness of our nuclear deterrent in the years to come."
"In addition to the talks between Shri Jaswant Singh and Mr. Strobe Talbott" - they did have talks Mr. Malhotra, may be you forgot; the Prime Minister confirms that they had talks - "we have had detailed exchanges with France and Russia. Discussions have also taken place with UK and China at the level of Shri Jaswant Singh and at official level with Germany and Japan as well as with other non-nuclear weapon States. I have been in regular correspondence with President Clinton. President Clinton has also expressed to me his desire for a broad-based relationship with India that befits the two largest democracies of the world. I have fully reciprocated these sentiments. Indeed, our ongoing dialogue with the United States is geared towards that end. I am confident this House will want to wish it all success".
What has this Government done? It has taken the dialogue forward. Today we have the 123 Agreement. The question is that, do we want to come out of the nuclear isolation? Sir, in this connection, I want to share with this House what China is doing. China's electricity today is produced, 80 per cent from coal and 18 per cent from hydro power. Two per cent of China's electricity comes from nuclear power. Mainland China has eleven nuclear power reactors in commercial operation. Six are under construction and several more are about to start construction. Additional reactors are planned including some of the world's most advanced to give a six-fold increase in nuclear capacity, to at least 50,000 megawatt by 2020 and then - this is important - a further three to four fold increase to 1,20,000 to 1,60,000 megawatt of electricity by 2030. The country aims to become self-sufficient in reactor design and construction as well as other aspects of the fuel cycle.
Moves to build nuclear power in China commenced in 1970 and the industry has now moved towards a steady development phase. Technology is being drawn from France, Canada and Russia with local development based largely on the French element. The latest technology acquisition has been from the US and France. A country with two per cent contributing nuclear energy towards total electricity.
We cannot because there are some people in this country who do not want India to catch up with China, who do not want India to go ahead of China. There are some people who want China to become an economic super power but India should never become an economic super power. Sir, I have no hesitation in saying that I do not envy China. I want to emulate China. I want India to be an economic power and economic super power.
Sir, when we talk about India, we should talk about only countries which are as large and as complex as India and that is China. We cannot talk about countries which are smaller than India or poorer than India. We must aspire to greater heights. Our ambitions must be large. When we talk about growth, we say that growth is a necessary condition not a sufficient condition. Let me give you some examples. Sir, China, for instance, has 29 million hectares under rice cultivation. India has 43 million hectares under rice cultivation. China produces 6.26 metric tonnes per hectare. The world average is 4.08 metric tonnes per hectare. India produces 2.1 metric tonnes per hectare. China has 23.4 million hectares under wheat while India has 25 million hectares under wheat. China produces 4.42 metric tonnes per hectare. The world average is 2.7 metric tonnes per hectare. India produces 2.72 metric tonnes per hectare. When I say we must grow, we must grow more wheat; we must grow more paddy; and we must emulate the best in the world. China produces 419 million tonnes of steel. India produces 44 million tonnes of steel. China produces 2,482 million tonnes of coal. India produces 427 million tonnes of coal. China generates 2,834 megawatt hour of electricity; India does 726 megawatt hour. When I say we must grow, we must produce more coal, produce more steel and generate more electricity. That is the only way we can bring economic justice to the people of this country.
The BJP and NDA seem to agree that we should end our nuclear isolation. After all these interruptions, no one is clear about the stand of the Left Parties. Let the two groups. Yet the two Groups are voting together against this Motion of Confidence. The NDA has no problem with a strategic relationship with the US. The Left Parties are ideologically opposed to any partnership strategic or otherwise with the US. Yet the two Groups are voting together against this Motion of Confidence. The NDA believes, as I listen to them, that India should become a nuclear weapon State, whereas the Left Parties have always been opposed to nuclear weapons and nuclear weaponisation. Yet the two Groups are voting together against this Motion of Confidence. The NDA says that if it comes to power, God forbid, it will renegotiate the Agreement. The Left Parties say that they will do everything possible to scuttle the Agreement now and for ever. Yet the two Groups are voting together against this Motion of Confidence. I doubt if in the history of India's Parliament we have seen anything more bizarre than these two Groups voting together against the Motion of Confidence.
Yesterday, from the Speaker's Chair, you welcomed one of the youngest Members of Parliament. There are millions of young boys and girls, and young men and women out there who are looking towards this Parliament and looking to the future. We can make our future; the future is in our hands. We can make our future, if we decide to have the vision and the farsightedness that can take this country forward. In the late 1980s and in the early 1990s, my beloved leader, Shri Rajiv Gandhi, followed by Shri Narasimha Rao and Dr. Manmohan Singh blazed a new path which made India a stronger economy than what it was 15 years ago. Today, this Government under Dr. Manmohan Singh's leadership is charting out a new path which will end India's nuclear isolation, which will pave way for India becoming an economic super-power.I ask this House to give a resounding vote of confidence to the Prime Minister.