Manmohan Singh’s Message

Indian leaders use the Independence Day speech to give their vision for the future. Sify reports on what the Indian Prime Minister had to say:

Outlining a seven-pronged agriculture and employment-oriented strategy for higher economic growth, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday said the challenge for reforms was to “breathe new life into government.”

Identifying seven priority sectors — agriculture, water, education, health care, employment, urban renewal and infrastructure, Singh, in his first Independence Day address from the Red Fort, said, “These saat sutras (seven principles) are the pillars of the development bridge we must cross to ensure higher economic growth and more equitable social and economic development.”

At the same time, he asserted that, “The challenge for economic reforms today is to breathe new life into government so that it can play a positive role where it must.”

“The real challenge for me and for the government at all levels is the challenge of implementation of our stated policies and programmes,” Singh said and quipped, “Today, I have no promises to make but I have promises to keep.”

Emphasising that Central, State and local bodies had to work in tandem for government to be an effective instrument of development, he said the concern of most of citizens revolved around action on the front of agriculture, water, education, health and employment.

While committing to deploy most modern technology to improve lives of ordinary people, he said the government would improve broadband access and enable the required investment in IT infrastructure.

“The promotion of scientific temper must truly become a massive national movement,” the Prime Minister asserted but pointed out that that a “concerted action” was needed to deal with two perennial albeit fundamental problems of drought and floods.

“Dealing with the problem of water is an important commitment we have made as part of our new deal for Rural India,” he said.

This new deal must encompass investment in irrigation, credit deliver, availability of electricity, primary education, rural roads and modernisation of farm sector infrastructure, Singh added.

Taking a leaf from the National Common Minimum Programme, Singh said key progress in major infrastructure sectors like power, roads, railways, ports and airports would be “critical” to development.

Although committed to “widen the space” available for private enterprise and individual initiative in tune with economic reforms aimed at ending stranglehold of bureaucracy, he said governments could not be wished away, specially in developing countries like India where it had important role to play.

It will all boil down to execution and elimination of corruption across all levels of government. On that rests India’s future.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.