The Prime Minister, Dr.
Manmohan Singh addressed the nation today from the ramparts of Red Fort
on the occasion of the 64th Anniversary of Independence of the country.
Following is the English rendering of the Prime Minister Speech:
“My dear countrymen,
I heartily greet 120 crore Indians on the 64th anniversary of our
I have been addressing you from the historic Red Fort for the last seven
years. In these seven years, our country has achieved much. During this
period, we have travelled rapidly on the path of development and have
seen success in many areas. However, I am also well aware that a lot
remains to be done. We have to banish poverty and illiteracy from our
country. We have to provide the common man with access to improved
health services. We have to provide employment opportunities to each one
of our youth.
The road ahead is long and arduous. Particularly, the prevailing
situation both inside and outside the country is such that if we do not
act with understanding and restraint, our security and prosperity can
get adversely affected. The world economy is slowing down. The developed
countries especially America and countries of Western Europe are facing
economic problems. There is unrest in many Arab countries of the Middle
East. There are some people who want to create disturbances in the
country so that our progress gets stalled. All this can have a negative
impact on us. But we will not let this happen. I know that if we work
together, we can face any challenge. However, it is necessary that we
rise above personal or political interests and build consensus on issues
of vital national importance.
We are building the edifice of modern India on the foundation of the
hard work and sacrifices of our soldiers, our farmers and our workers.
We will not let their hard work and sacrifices go waste. We will convert
the dreams of our freedom fighters into reality.
In the last seven years, our government has strived for political
stability and social and economic progress. We have established an
environment of communal harmony in the country.
In these seven years, the pace of our economic development has been
rapid. We have achieved this success despite the global economic
slow-down of 2008 and rising prices of energy and commodities in world
We have strived for reducing inequalities in the country. In the last
seven years, we have taken special care of the needs of our brothers and
sisters from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, minorities,
women and children.
We have enacted laws which would guarantee our people their basic
entitlements. After the rights to education, employment and information,
we will soon enact a legislation for providing food security to the
In the last seven years, our relations with various countries of the
world have strengthened and deepened. It is only the result of our hard
work that today we have much more self respect and self-confidence in
These successes are not ordinary. Today the world recognizes our
potential to be one of the major economic powers globally. But the
problem of corruption is a big obstacle in such a transformation.
In the last few months many instances of corruption have come to light.
In some cases, functionaries of the Central government face allegations
of corruption. In other cases, it is the functionaries of various State
We are taking the strictest possible action in cases of corruption that
have surfaced. These cases are sub-judice and hence I will say nothing
more on this subject.
It is essential that when we consider these issues, we do not create an
atmosphere in which the country`s progress comes into question. Any
debate on these matters should reflect the confidence that we can
overcome these challenges.
Corruption manifests itself in many forms. In some instances, funds
meant for schemes for the welfare of the common man end up in the pocket
of government officials. In some other instances government discretion
is used to favour a selected few. There are also cases where government
contracts are wrongfully awarded to the wrong people. We cannot let such
activities continue unchecked.
I believe that there is no single big step which we can take to
eradicate corruption. In fact, we will have to act simultaneously on
We will have to improve our justice delivery system. Everyone should
know that quick action will be taken against the corrupt and punishment
meted out to them. If our system delivers justice in an effective
manner, government officials would think twice before committing a wrong
act out of greed or under political pressure.
We want a strong Lokpal to prevent corruption in high places. We have
recently introduced a Bill in Parliament to achieve this. Now only
Parliament can decide what type of Lokpal legislation should be enacted.
I am aware of the differences of opinion on some aspects of the Bill.
Those who don`t agree with this Bill can put forward their views to
Parliament, political parties and even the press. However, I also
believe that they should not resort to hunger strikes and fasts unto
It is not appropriate to bring the judiciary under the ambit of Lokpal.
We believe that any such provision would go against the independence of
the judiciary. However, we do need a framework in which the judiciary
becomes more accountable. It is with this aim that we have introduced
the Judicial Accountability Bill in Parliament. I am confident that this
Bill will be passed soon.
An alert press and an aware citizenry can be very helpful in the fight
against corruption. The Indian press is known for its independence and
activism throughout the world. The Right to Information legislation that
we have enacted has enabled our press and people to keep a strict watch
on the work of the government.
Today many government decisions, which in the absence of this Act would
escape public scrutiny, are coming to light. I believe that this is a
big step forward in eradicating corruption.
Many times, government discretion is misused in allocation of scarce
resources and in the grant of clearances. We have examined this issue.
We will put an end to such discretionary powers wherever possible.
Any government awards contracts worth thousands of crores every year.
There are frequent complaints of corruption in these decisions. We had
constituted a committee to suggest measures to reduce corruption in
government purchases. The committee has recommended that, like many
other countries, we should also have a public procurement legislation
which lays down the principles and practice with regard to government
purchases. We will introduce a Bill in Parliament by the end of this
year to enact such a law.
In recent years, we have established independent regulatory authorities
in many areas. These authorities discharge many responsibilities which
were earlier in the domain of the government itself. We have no
legislation which would enable monitoring of the work of these
regulatory authorities and make them more accountable, without, however,
compromising their independence. We are also considering enactment of
such a law.
I have said so much on corruption because I know that this problem is a
matter of deep concern for all of us. However, this is a difficulty for
which no government has a magic wand. We are taking simultaneous action
on many fronts in our fight against corruption. We want all political
parties to stand shoulder to shoulder with us in this fight. To
eradicate corruption, we have introduced, and will introduce, many Bills
in Parliament. I hope that all political parties will cooperate in the
process of converting these Bills into statutes. On the issue of
corruption, I would like to say in the end that we can win the fight
against corruption only when each and every citizen of India cooperates
I congratulate the country`s farmers for their achievements this year.
The production of foodgrains has been at a record level. Wheat, maize,
pulses and oilseeds have all seen record levels of production. It is
because of the hard work of our farmers that today there are proposals
for export of foodgrains, sugar and cotton.
We need a second Green Revolution in agriculture. We can tackle the
problem of rising food prices only by increasing agricultural production
and productivity. We also need to increase agricultural production to
implement a food security law. We will accelerate our efforts in this
direction in the 12th Plan.
Today, I wish to assure our farmer brothers and sisters, particularly
those who are small and marginal, that we will continue to take care of
their special needs. It will be our endeavour to ensure that our farmers
have easy access to fertilizers, seeds and credit. We also want to
provide the best possible irrigation facilities to the farmers so that
their dependence on rains is reduced.
Our country is passing through a phase of sustained high inflation.
Controlling rising prices is a primary responsibility of any government.
Our government fully understands this responsibility. We have
continuously taken steps to rein in prices. Some time we have been
confronted with a situation in which the reasons for rising prices lay
outside the country. The prices of petroleum products, foodgrains and
edible oil have risen steeply in international markets in recent times.
Since we import these products in large quantities, any rise in their
prices adds to inflationary pressure in our country. Sometimes we have
been successful too in controlling inflation. But this success has not
proved lasting. A few days back, the people`s concern at rising prices
was also reflected in a discussion in Parliament. I wish to assure you
today that we are continuously monitoring the situation to find out what
new steps can be taken to arrest rising prices. Finding a solution to
this problem will be our top-most priority in the coming months.
I am fully aware of the tensions caused in some parts of the country
because of acquisition of land for industry, infrastructure and
urbanization. Our farmers have been especially affected by such
acquisition. Land acquisition is no doubt necessary for projects of
public interest. But it should take place in a transparent and fair
manner. The interests of those whose livelihoods are dependent on the
land being acquired should be fully protected. We will ensure that no
injustice is done to anyone in the process of land acquisition. Our
government wants to replace the 117 year old land acquisition law by a
new Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation law which is forward looking and
balanced. We have already prepared a draft legislation and have
initiated steps to build consensus on it. We will soon introduce a Bill
in Parliament to this end.
We are satisfied with our achievements in the last seven years in the
areas of education and health. Whether it is elementary education,
secondary education or higher education we have taken concrete steps for
improvements at all levels. This has shown good results. In the last few
years, fundamental changes have taken place in the area of education.
Today every citizen has a right to elementary education. We are now
considering universalization of secondary education. Vocational
education and skill development have acquired a new importance. In view
of these major changes, it is necessary that we consider all aspects of
education in a comprehensive manner. Therefore we have decided to
appoint an education commission to make recommendations for improvements
at all levels of education.
I have often referred to the 11th Five Year Plan as an education plan.
We will lay the same emphasis on health in the 12th plan as we laid on
education in the 11th plan. I will propose to the National Development
Council that the 12th plan should be specially focused on health. I also
promise that funds will not be a constraint in the important areas of
education and health.
For a long time our country had no facility for health insurance for
workers in the unorganized sector. In 2008, we began the Rashtriya
Swasthya Bima Yojana for workers in the unorganized sector who are below
the poverty line. In the last year we have covered those getting
employment under Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Act and also domestic
workers, street vendors and beedi workers under this scheme. Today the
Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana covers about 2 crore 50 lakh workers. Our
government will endeavour to cover as many unorganized sector workers as
possible under this scheme.
We are continuously strengthening the physical infrastructure in our
country. This is an area which requires very large investments. It is
for this reason that in the last seven years we have pursued policies
which encourage investment in infrastructure. As a percentage of GDP,
investment in this area has grown more than one and a half times in the
last seven years. There have been improvements in our capacities in the
petroleum sector and power generation, and in our airports, roads,
especially rural road, and ports. As an illustration, the capacity in
power generation that we are going to add in the 11th plan will be twice
that of the 10th plan. In the 12th Plan, we will further accelerate
investment in infrastructure. We will pay special attention to the
remote areas of our country and to rural areas. Connecting such areas by
rail and road will get the top most priority.
We have taken a major step this year for our poor brothers and sisters
living in cities. Recently we have approved the Rajiv Awas Yojana. We
want to make India slum free through this scheme. We want the slum
dwellers to get ownership of clean houses and have access to basic
amenities like water and electricity. We will implement the Rajiv Awas
Yojana as a national mission together with the States.
Malnutrition in our women and children is a matter of concern for all of
us. We have taken a number of steps to tackle this problem, including
two new schemes. We have also decided that we will start implementing an
improved Integrated Child Development Services scheme within the next
six months so that the problem of malnutrition in children can be
The figures of census 2011 show improvements in most areas. But it is a
matter of deep regret for us that the sex ratio has shown a decline from
the level of the last census. For an improvement in this state of
affairs, it is not only necessary to implement the existing laws
effectively but it is also essential to change the approach with which
our society views girls and women. I would especially appeal to the
State governments and social service organizations to take steps for
empowerment of women and for improving their status in society.
Last month`s terrorists attacks in Mumbai warn us that there cannot be
any slip up in our vigilance as far as the fight against terrorism is
concerned. This is a long battle to be fought jointly by the Central
Government, the State Governments and the common man. We have been
steadily strengthening our intelligence and security agencies and will
continue to do so in the future also.
We are also taking all possible steps to overcome the challenge of
naxalism. We want to eradicate the very reasons which give rise to this
problem. Therefore we have started a new scheme for the accelerated
development of 60 backward and tribal dominated districts. An amount of
Rs. 3300 crore will be spent on this scheme in a period of two years.
Preserving our environment even as we develop rapidly is a huge
challenge for us. Climate change poses a threat to both our development
processes and our natural resources. We have established eight missions
on climate change and are working hard to implement these missions. We
have set up the National Ganga River Basin Authority for the protection
and cleaning of river Ganga. We have also established the National Green
Tribunal for quick disposal of cases involving environmental issues. In
the coming months, we will constitute an environmental assessment and
monitoring authority to streamline the process of environmental
Our society and country are changing rapidly because of our fast
economic growth. Today our people look towards the future with new hope.
They have higher aspirations. Our young men and women strive for path
breaking achievements. We should all build an environment in the country
in which the energy and enthusiasm of the people are channelised into
activities of nation building. Our institutions should encourage
constructive utilization of the potential of our people. Our
entrepreneurs and businessmen should not feel constrained in their
activities. Our industrialists should have the opportunity to set up new
industries so that our youth can get additional avenues for productive
employment. We should all stay away from politics that create suspicion
or apprehension amongst those connected with industry, business and
It is not an ordinary achievement for our democracy with a population of
120 crore and so many religions, languages and cultures to march rapidly
ahead on the path of development. I congratulate the people of India on
this achievement. But we must ensure that inequalities do not increase
even as we develop rapidly.
We have embarked on a journey to transform our huge and diverse country
through rapid development. A development which benefits every citizen of
the country. It is natural that tensions would sometimes arise in this
process of change. In a democracy, such tensions also become issues of
political polarization. We should endeavour that even as political
parties oppose and engage in debate against each other, the pace of our
progress does not get affected.
We should also have faith that our democracy, our institutions and our
social ideals and values have the capacity to deal with any difficulty.
We should all have faith in ourselves. The faith that we can build a
promising future for ourselves. The faith, that united we can do the
most difficult of tasks. Let us all resolve to build a bright future for
Dear Children, join me in saying