Assuring the nation that the government will consider new steps to arrest price rise, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday said persisting high inflation and corruption are major challenges before the Indian economy.
"We are continuously monitoring the situation (on inflation) ... Finding a solution to this problem will be our top-most priority in the coming months," Singh said in his Independence Day address to the nation.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in sync with government, has taken steps, like tightening of monetary policy, to rein in rising prices. But, Singh said, "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 gone up steeply in international markets in recent times. Both food and general inflation have remained stubbornly high and are near the double digit marks.
In the backdrop of apprehensions of policy paralysis and slowdown in reforms expressed by the industry, the Prime Minister said, "We should all stay away from politics that create suspicion or apprehension amongst those connected with industry, business and investment."
Admitting that corruption is coming in the way of India achieving its aspirational goals, he said, "Today, the world recognises our potential to be one of the major economic powers globally. But the problem of corruption is a big obstacle in such a transformation."
Singh said while India had successfully handled the global financial crisis of 2008, the "road ahead is long and ardous...The world economy is slowing down. The developed countries, especially America and countries of western Europe are facing economic problems...All this can have negative impact on us.But we will not let this happen."
Singh said that while the country is going through rapid economic growth, "we should build an environment in which the energy and enthusiasm of the people are chanellised into activities of nation building.
"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 new avenues for productive employment."
About the nagging inflation, he said the situation can be tackled by increasing supply of essential commodities, and complemented farmers for India's record foodgrain production.
According to fourth advance estimates, the country has achieved a record 241.56 million tonnes of foodgrains production during 2010-11 crop year (July-June).
"I congratulate the country's farmers for their achievement this year... Wheat, maize, pulses and oilseeds have all seen record levels of production...Today there are proposals for export of foodgrains, sugar and cotton," he said.
He assured the people worst affected by price rise that the government will soon enact a legislation for providing food security to them.
For ensuring transparency in the public procurement, the government is planning to introduce a bill in Parliament by the end of this year to lay down principles in regard to state purchases.