New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind Thursday said the people of India have given a "clear mandate" to accelerate the country's development journey that started in 2014.
He also said that the Narendra Modi government is moving ahead to create a strong, secure and inclusive India.
In his address to the joint sitting of both houses of Parliament in the historic Central Hall, the President noted that women came out in large numbers to exercise their franchise in the general elections.
A record 78 women have been elected as members of the Lok Sabha -- the highest ever -- and almost half of the elected members are first timers, Kovind said in his customary address after the formation of the 17th Lok Sabha.
"In this election, the people of the country gave a clear mandate. After the assessment of the government's first tenure, the people have given it a bigger mandate this time," he said.
The President said, by doing so, the people have given a mandate to accelerate the development process initiated in 2014. Kovind said the government has started a pension scheme to help farmers and small traders live a life of dignity.
Congratulating the Election Commission and crores of officials and security personnel involved in holding the general elections, he pointed out that over 61 crore people voted in the Lok Sabha polls, creating a record.
Elaborating on steps being taken in the education sector, he said, "My government is working to increase seats in higher educational institutes by 50 per cent by 2024 and will create 2 crore more seats."
The President said 26 lakh poor patients have benefitted from the Ayushman Bharat scheme and 1.5 wellness centres are likely to function by 2022. "My government is giving residential, health facilities to poor as poverty can be removed only by empowering them," he said.
Kovind said creation of the 'Jal Shakti' ministry is a step towards water conservation as water crisis may deepen in the future. The President said a new industrial policy will be announced soon and the process to further simplify GST will continue.
He said Rs 7.3 lakh crore has been transferred to people under the direct benefit transfer scheme in the last 5 years and over Rs 1.41 lakh crore was saved as 8 crore fake beneficiaries were weeded out.
"My government will make its policy of zero tolerance towards corruption more expansive and effective," he said.
Kovind said the government will build a transport system with emphasis on speed, security and environment and will also work to make rivers like Cauvery, Periyar, Mahanadi, Narmada and Godavari pollution free.