India least hit by rising inflation across world: PM

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New Delhi, Apr 25: Allaying apprehensions over the continuing rise in the prices of essential commodities, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today assured a delegation of the Left parties that the government was taking all necessary steps to contain inflation and warned that ''scare mongering'' by some parties would only create an environment of scarcity, encouraging speculators and hoarders.

Dr Singh told the delegation, led by CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat, that despite an extremely difficult global situation, with food, commodity and oil prices rising, the UPA government has been able to ensure that the ''Indian people are among the least impacted in the developing world.'' He said the recent hike in the minimum support price (MSP) and increased foodgrains output in the wake of a normal monsoon this year would result in higher procurement and ease inflation.

Without mentioning the opposition NDA or its proposed nation-wide strike on May 2 to protest against the government's failure to check the price rise, Dr Singh warned against creating an environment of scarcity which would only encourage speculators and hoarders.

''The government is taking all necessary steps to deal with the problem and there is no need for political parties to indulge in scare mongering,'' he said.

Blaming the Opposition further for the current situation, he said agricultural production in India was rising in a robust manner in the 1980s and in early 1990s (when the Congress was in power) and it was only between 1996 and 2004 that the farm sector had been neglected.

The UPA had tried to reverse the trend by taking several steps in the past four years to increase agricultural production, give security to farmers, improve their financial condition and increase investment in agricultural research and marketing.

He said he personally took the initiative to convene a special meeting of the National Development Council to draw the attention of the state governments to the problems in agriculture.

Among the other initiatives were the launch of the Food Security Mission and increased investment in Krishi Vigyan Kendras to promote agricultural production.

Further, the government would ''closely monitor'' the situation and take steps to strengthen the public distribution system and food procurement system in the country, he said.

The Prime Minister urged all Political Parties to eschew the temptation of politicising the misery of the people.

The Left leaders said they suggested six measures to check the prices, but got no concrete assurance barring a possible restoration of quota of foodgrains to the states under the PDS.

UNI

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