New Delhi, May 8 : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called for a devolution of powers to rural governing bodies for improved efficiency in governance and greater equity.
Addressing probationers of the Indian Administrative Services here, Dr. Singh said, "With 65 percent of the country's population living in rural areas, rural infrastructure and food security need to be strengthened."
He urged the new officers to acquire a deep familiarity with and be committed to the transformation of processes of rural and agricultural development.
He said that the Panchayati Raj system, which advocates decentralization and self-governance at the level of village governments, contains provision for the devolution of powers and responsibilities to the panchayats both for preparation of plans for economic development and for promoting social justice under the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution.
"But a country as vast as India has to learn to make decentralization a way of life, the way of thinking and make this decentralization process work, work efficiently, work in a manner which will inspire confidence among our people, that it must work also to promote the cause not only of efficiency, but also of equity," Dr. Singh added.
Declaring that the first and foremost task before the state and the new officers joining work would be to get rid of chronic poverty, ignorance and disease which afflict millions and millions of people, Dr. Singh said the underprivileged sections of society must have the satisfaction that the benign and benevolent hand of the State is there to protect their legitimate interests.
Dr. Singh further said that the interests of the most marginalised sections of society cannot be left to be decided by market forces, adding that when millions of people live on the edges of subsistence, market signals have no meaning for them.
Dr. Singh also urged the young officers to take cognizance of the adverse impact that climate change has on the environment and warned that if environment related issues are not adequately addressed, India would be one of the worst affected countries.