New Delhi, Aug.15 : Accepting that the nation faced a grave challenge in countering the rise in prices of essential items, the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, said on Friday that notwithstanding the present inflationary trends, India had for the past four years enjoyed nearly nine percent economic growth, and is now being regarded as one of the world's fastest growing economies.
"There are new challenges that we face. We have the challenge of inflation. I know how much each one of you is concerned about the recent rise in prices. The inflation we have seen this year is basically due to external factors," Dr. Singh said, adding that: "All over the world and in global markets the price of food, fuel and other commodities has been rising. In many developing countries the rate of inflation is double that in India."
He insisted that his government was working hard to ensure that the rate of inflation is not as high as in many other countries.
"We have taken special measures to insulate the poorer sections of our society from the full impact of rising food and fuel prices. Our Government has not raised the price of kerosene and fertilizers. We have not raised the issue price of wheat and rice under PDS (Public Distribution System)," he said.
"We are taking determined measures to bring prices under reasonable control. I have urged all Chief Ministers to improve and strengthen the PDS to ensure availability of essential commodities to the common man at reasonable prices. The Reserve Bank of India is moderating the growth of money supply in the country so that inflation can be controlled. However, while making these efforts we should avoid doing anything which hurts our growth," he said. He also dwelled on the problem of malnutrition. Describing it as a curse on modern India, Dr. Singh said: "The problem of malnutrition is a curse that we must remove. Our efforts to provide every child with access to education and to improve health care services for all citizens will continue."
He also said that his government is determined to take forward its initiatives for giving equal status to women and for their social and economic empowerment.
"I promise to you that we will continue striving for the development and prosperity of our country. We will work hard to take the country to greater heights in all fields," he said.