Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday announced a series of new schemes for women and for the housing, energy and education sectors.
"Our government will make sustained efforts for social and economic empowerment of women. We have decided to launch a National Female Literacy Mission, through which female illiteracy will be reduced by half in the next three years," he said in his Independence Day address to the nation.
Noting that the government had started the Jawaharalal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission for the urban areas, he lamented that "lakhs of our citizens live in slums which lack basic amenities".
"We wish to make our country slum free as early as possible. In the next five years, we will provide better housing facilities to slum dwellers through a new scheme, Rajiv Awas Yojana," the prime minister said.
To increase the use of solar energy and to make it affordable, Manmohan Singh said, "we will launch the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission on 14th November of this year".
Secondary education will be expanded through a programme that will ensure that every child in the country gets its benefit, the prime minister said.
"We will endeavour to provide bank loans and scholarships to the maximum possible number of students to support their education.
"A new scheme will be started to help students from economically weaker sections of society by way of reduced interest rate on their education loans. This will benefit about five lakh students in getting technical and professional education," Manmohan Singh said.