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President justifies increased spending on defence

Thursday 15 July 2004

HYDERABAD, JULY 14. The President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, has strongly defended India going nuclear and the increasing defence spending, saying "we need to have strength to repulse if somebody attacks."

By Our Special Correspondent

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HISTORIC ADDRESS: The President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, speaking at the Andhra Pradesh Assembly in Hyderabad on Wednesday. - AP

Interacting with the members of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly after addressing the House, Mr. Kalam said that India spent much less compared to many other countries and subscribed to the philosophy of "no first use of nuclear weapon systems."

It was for the second time in the history of the State that a President had addressed the Assembly. He fielded questions on a variety of subjects.

Mr. Kalam, who was responding to a question by a Telugu Desam member, P. Keshav, spoke of India’s vulnerable history. "Countries after countries and kings after kings kept invading India. The British, the French and the Dutch turned several parts into their colonies. Why were we ruled by others? Did we not have kings and warriors? What we lacked was strength. Ponder over, you will get the answer."

Mr. Keshav had asked him if India was taking the right path by entering the nuclear and arms race and emerging as the third highest spender on defence after the U.S. and China, when most parts of the country were hit by drought and poverty.

The President also favoured the interlinking of rivers, pointing to the paradox of simultaneous floods and severe drought conditions. "We need connectivity from the Brahmaputra, the Ganges and the Cauvery to overcome such problems," he said, responding to a question by J. Krishna Rao (Independent). He would pursue it with the Central Government.

To a question on the impact of globalisation on Indian agriculture asked by D. Sridhar Babu (Congress), Mr. Kalam said the country needed to bring about convergence of "physical, electronic and knowledge connectivities."

On the issue of the agrarian crisis and farmers committing suicides raised by N. Narsimhaiah (CPI- M) Mr. Kalam said he was sad that the farmers were overtaken by such tragedy. They needed help and the courage to face problems.

On 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament, he supported it and said: "My Government is looking forward to it."

Earlier in his address, the President said the country faced the major challenge of uplifting 260 million people below the poverty line. For achieving the objective, economists suggested that the economy should grow at the rate of 10 per cent per annum consistently for over a decade, from the present GDP rate of five per cent.

He came up with a "Rural Prosperity Through Connectivity" plan for rural development and a 10-mission approach focussing on agriculture, energy, drinking water, health care, weather-monitoring and education.

See online : The Hindu

P.S.

in The Hindu, July 15, 2004.

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