Prime Minister Manmohan Singh completed three years in office on Tuesday, setting his United Progressive Alliance (UPA) a goal to build a new and caring India.
He set the tone for the shift by saying that the government would announce a major agriculture initiative within the next 10 days.
He said that high national income growth alone could not address the challenges of employment generation or poverty reduction.
“The national common minimum programme is based on the recognition that economic growth must be socially inclusive and regionally balanced,” Singh said at a ceremony to mark three years of the government at his residence that was attended by key coalition partners and Sonia Gandhi, chairperson of the alliance.
The government has faced criticism over price rise, agrarian distress, suicide by farmers and concerns over food security in a country of more than 1 billion people.
Singh said inflation was a concern but added that his government had taken “credible steps” to keep prices in check.
“In a democracy, people’s aspiration become goals a government has to measure up to,” he said, adding that any government could fall short of expectations in a vast country as India.
On her part, Gandhi expressed satisfaction that efforts to control price rise have succeeded to a great extent. Speaking in Hindi, she said there were major challenges ahead for the coalition as social and economic justice was not available to the poor. The government was trying to introduce accountability in administration and had managed to change some of the agriculture neglect.
The Left parties, which extend outside support to the UPA, were not present at the function. But they joined the celebratory dinner that followed. The Bahujan Samaj Party MPs who were invited, however, stayed away following a party diktat...
The Prime Minister’s main thrust while unveiling his government’s Report to the People 2004-07 was that all his policies were guided by the strategy of “inclusive growth’’ that combined empowerment with entitlement and investment.
The report said the government planned to bring a new bill to reserve seats for women in parliament since there was no consensus on the one that was already with the house.
“Development is not just a matter of quantitative growth, it entails a qualitative change in mindsets and in aspirations. It requires political stability and social cohesion,” he said, committing his government to providing an environment for inclusive and accelerated growth. “In this 60th year of our Independence, let us all resolve to build a new India, a caring India,’’ he added.
In focusing on building a “caring India’’ Singh sought to blunt the two-pronged attack — from the Opposition and the Left — that the UPA is not sensitive to the concerns of the common man badly hit by price rise and inflation.
He listed his government’s achievements — high economic growth rate, increase in outlays for education and public health, remunerative prices for farmers and massive investments for rural development and agriculture.
Singh said his government had also worked to create a more supportive external environment for India’s economic development by improving and strengthening India’s relations with other countries, through the “Look East policy,’’ the Indo-US nuclear deal and a dialogue with Pakistan.
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