The session began ahead of the crucial assembly elections in five important states

The Budget session of Parliament began on Monday with President Ram Nath Kovind's address to a joint sitting of both Houses.

Union Finace Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Economic Survey 2021-22 later in the day; she will present the Union Budget on Tuesday.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will have separate timings. During the session, members will be seated in both houses to ensure social distancing. While the upper house will be in session from 10 am to 3 pm, the lower house will sit from 4 pm to 9 pm.

In his address to the joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament at the start of the Budget Session, President Kovind highlighted the achievements of the Modi government's mega Covid-19 vaccination drive, and noted that 150 crore doses were administered to the country's citizens in record time.

Here are the key points from President Kovind’s address:

* India’s fight against Covid-19 pandemic: Lauding Centre-State coalition during COVID pandemic, the President said, "'Covid-19 pandemic has affected everyone around the world. India has too lost many people during this time. But Centre, States, Sanitation Workers worked as a unit. This is a good example of Democracy.''

* Rising exports: President Kovind said that India’s exports have risen to the value of $300 billion or ₹22 lakh crore during April to December 2021, which is 1.5 times more than the levels of 2020.

* India's agriculture exports beyond Rs 3 lakh crore, registering a growth of more than 25% in the year 2020-21. Despite the pandemic, the country's farmers produced 30 crore tonnes of food grains and 33 crore horticulture produce in 2020-21, President Kovind pointed out.

* Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) schemes for the manufacturing sector is a step towards making “India a global manufacturing hub” and more than 60 lakh employment opportunities are being created. Today India has emerged as the second largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world, generating lakhs of jobs for our youth, the President said.

* NEP promoting local languages: The President in his speech, hailed the Centre's New Education Policy and said that local languages are being promoted as part of NEP. "Emphasis is being laid to conduct entrance examinations in Indian languages. 19 engineering colleges across 10 states to teach in 6 Indian languages this year.''

* Start-up Sector: The President said that since 2016, 60,000 new startups emerged in 56 sectors which provided employment to 6 lakh people. In 2021, during the Corona period, 40 unicorn start-ups emerged in the country, each worth ₹7,400 crore or more.

* Digital India campaign: Amidst the progress made in respect of Digital India and Digital Economy, the UPI platform emerged as a big success. Transactions worth more than Rupees 8 lakh crore have taken place in the country through UPI in December 2021. This is a clear example of how fast our people are adopting technology and rapid change.

* 'Har Ghar Jal’ initiative: Flagging other achievements of the central government, President Kovind said ''over six crore rural households are getting tap water under 'Har Ghar Jal initiative''. This has brought about a huge difference in the lives of the people.

* Measures for farmers: The government has allocated over ₹1 lakh crore for about 8 crore farmers, of which 80% are small farmers. Under the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi, Rupees 1 lakh 80 thousand crore have been provided to more than 11 crore farmer families. With this investment, the agriculture sector is witnessing major transformations today. The small farmers of the country have also benefited from the new changes in the crop insurance scheme.

* The government’s infrastructure development policies are a way to address social inequalities. Investment in infrastructure creates employment and has had qualitative effects. Multi-modal transport is being developed to integrate railways, airways, and highways. India is also among the top 4 driverless train networks of the world now. We have also developed Indigenous Automatic Train System in the country which symbolizes the growing capability of Make in India; the government has also approved 21 greenfield airports. India now has a network of more than 1.40 lakh km of national highways as against 90,000 km in March 2014.

* The ₹64,000-crore Ayushman Bharat scheme is an example of India’s long-term health readiness. Under the PM Ayushman Swasthya Mission, more than 80,000 health and wellness centres opened in the country along with 8,000 public dispensaries. Along with this, PLI schemes have been introduced to assist the Pharma sector.

* India is also making strides in space and drone technology. PLI schemes have been introduced to encourage the sector.

* The President mentioned the momentum being gained towards Armed Forces modernization and self-dependance, mentioning the 209 equipment listed that will not be purchased from abroad henceforth. Adding to this, a list of more than 2,800 defence equipment has also been issued by defence undertakings which will be manufactured domestically.