Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday singled out resilience of the Indian economy in times of global meltdown as a signature achievement of UPA II's first year in office, and pushed for "new frontiers" in implementing the social inclusion agenda, including food security act and education for all.
In a spirit of introspection, Manmohan Singh, however, admitted that soaring prices of basic commodities remained a source of concern and stressed that his government will take whatever "corrective steps" are necessary to rein in inflation.
Pushing for pro-people policies, the government laid stress on giving "a new deal to rural India" pivoted around key initiatives like the Food Security Act and other flagship schemes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Bharat Nirman and National Rural Health Mission.
In the area of foreign policy, the UPA government underlined India continued to press for the UN reforms and said it was committed to close and friendly relations with all countries in the immediate and extended neighbourhood.
The government will enforce the writ of the state in dealing with the challenge of Maoist violence, while pursuing a policy to address the grassroots developmental concerns, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said while releasing a 68-page report card on UPA-II's one year in office at a function at his official 7, Race Course Road residence.
The prime minister, who was sworn in for the second term May 22, 2009, released the document titled "Report to the People" in the presence of his council of ministers and top leaders of the alliance, sans any celebrations.
Others at the event included UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Leader of Lok Sabha and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Agriculture Minister and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee.
"In dealing with the challenge of Naxalism, we will pursue a policy that genuinely seeks to address developmental concerns at the grassroots, while firmly enforcing the writ of the State," said Manmohan Singh.
Saying that the UPA and all its constituents rededicate themselves to giving the country "an effective, purposeful and responsive government", Manmohan Singh said the government will carry forward the pro-people policies and programmes and seek "new frontiers and new directions that would strengthen the country's social and economic foundations".
Stressing social inclusion, Manmohan Singh said his government will prioritise the concerns and interests of the Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes, other backward classes, minorities and women, and strive to make the right to education a living reality.
On economy, the UPA-II patted itself on the back for its performance in times of meltdown, but struck a cautionary note by stressing need for fiscal prudence.
India's economic performance has been the best in the world and every effort will be made to step up growth and tame rising prices, Manmohan Singh said. "In the current financial year, the economy is expected to grow at 8.5 percent," he said.
"This is one of the best performances in the world and reflects the strong fundamentals which we have built over several years. There are uncertainties on the horizon. But on the whole, I look to the year ahead with cautious optimism," he said.
On price rise, the prime minister said he was happy to note that prices have shown a moderating trend in recent weeks. "I am hopeful this trend will continue. We will continue to monitor the situation carefully, and take whatever corrective steps are necessary to rein in inflation."
The report was originally scheduled for release May 22, and the prime minister was to host a dinner for all constituents of the alliance, to mark the first anniversary of the UPA II in office.
But it was deferred due to the Air India Express air crash at Mangalore the same morning which claimed 158 lives.
While Manmohan Singh assured enactment of the National Food Security Act, he gave no similar assurance on the women's reservation bill. The prime minister said that "political empowerment of women is a powerful and indispensable tool for eliminating gender inequality and discrimination."
In the area of foreign policy, the government stressed its continuing commitment to non-alignment and pledged close and friendly relations with all neighbours as well as major powers.
"In foreign policy, our core objective is to secure for India an external environment that is conducive to our long-term economic development and to peace and stability in our region," said Manmohan Singh.