PM salutes people's sharp political instincts

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New Delhi, Oct 12 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today saluted the wisdom and sharp political instincts of the people of the country, saying they had shown a remarkable capacity to keep in step with change while political leaders had sometimes been found lagging behind public opinion.

''I dare say, though, that one finds that on many issues, the people of our country are often ahead of their political and intellectual leaders!'' Dr Singh said while addressing the Hindustan Times Summit-2007, with 'Imagine: The India That Can Be' as its theme.

He said the people of India have shown time and again a remarkable capacity to keep in step with change and often, be the agents of the change they want to see. ''It is we -- politicians, policy makers and opinion makers -- who some times find ourselves lagging behind public opinion.'' Dr Singh, however, attributed this phenomenon to the country's changing demography -- a society of increasingly young people.

''India is going through a demographic revolution. We are a nation of young people, with a new generation entering the electorate at every election. Each generation has its own dreams.

Each generation 'Imagines the India that can be'.

''In a society of such rapid demographic and social change, new ideas and experiences capture the imagination of each passing generation. The India that we imagine that can be today, may well be obsolete by tomorrow,'' he said.

The Prime Minister said it was, therefore, of utmost importance that ''we remain in touch with this changing reality and understand the India 'that is', even as we seek to imagine the India that 'can be'.

Describing India as ''an ancient civilisation but a young nation,'' he said the 'idea of India' drew inspiration both from its civilisational roots and from the social, political, intellectual and, above all, the emotional basis of national movement.

Dr Singh said a nation based on such diverse sources of human imagination - rather than on mere ethnicity, religion or language - had limitless possibilities as no static ideology could freeze or strait-jacket the creativity, the enterprise and the imagination of Indians.

He also exuded optimism that India would be able to banish its poverty, ignorance and disease sooner than later as the country was poised on the threshold of a new era of social and economic development.

''Over the last three years, we have brought back into sharper focus the issues of critical importance for the development of the vast majority of our people. We have moved public debate and discourse away from narrow, sectarian, divisive agendas to an agenda where policies and programmes that will usher in a new India are discussed, debated and given a final shape,'' he said.

The prime Minister said Indian democracy had shown a remarkable ability to re-focus its energies on issues of vital import to its people -- be it rural development, education, health care or social security. ''It is this vibrancy that makes me believe that the India of tomorrow will be a great nation,'' he told the high-profile conclave. He, however, tempered his optimism with caution. He said there was a vast unfinished agenda of development and reform and that the country's unprecedented nine per cent growth rate, though, sustainable, could not be taken for granted.

Dr Singh also cautioned against dissipating energies in meaningless controversies. ''If all our time and energy is spent battling the ghosts of the past, how can we hope to do the day's work efficiently? And I dare say, there is a lot of work to be done.'' Without mincing words, he pointed out that ''we are still a poor nation. To be a Great Nation, we need to improve the quality of life of our people, generate more employment, improve productivity, educate all our children and eradicate mass poverty.'' Dr Singh also took the opportunity to unfold the India of his dreams.

''We want India to regain its due place in the comity of nations, as an open economy and an open society. We want India to have normal relations with all countries, big and small...We seek India's membership of all global councils where the voice of a billion people must and should be heard.'' He concluded by saying that ''the The India we imagine today will also be in our grasp, if only we keep faith, dare to dream and stay on the course.'' UNI

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