New Delhi, Aug.15 : Following is the first part of the text of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's address from the Red Fort on the occasion of the nation's 62nd Independence Day:
Brothers and Sisters,
I spent the first ten years of my life in a village that had no electricity, no drinking water supply, no doctor, no roads and no phones. I had to walk many miles to a school. I had to study at night in the dim light of a kerosene lamp. After independence there has been considerable development in rural areas, yet many of our citizens still live a life that I lived in my childhood.
That is why when our government took over, we launched Bharat Nirman, to build rural infrastructure. Our government is committed to transforming rural India. In these four years we have taken important initiatives. I am confident that a new and prosperous India will be built due to our efforts.
My dear Countrymen,
Four years ago I spoke to you about our "Seven Sutras" - the seven priorities for our Government - agriculture, water, education, health care, employment, urban renewal and infrastructure.
In each area we have taken important initiatives. I have already spoken about our initiatives for agricultural development and farmer's welfare.
The second important area of development has been infrastructure development. There is a new dynamism in our railways. New roads are being built. New seaports and airports are being developed.
More and more of our people now live in our cities. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Mission has been funding urban development and modernization of our cities.
The National Rural Health Mission has been expanding public health facilities and services in rural areas.
As someone who started his professional life as a teacher, I feel proud to say that our Government has been giving special attention to the development of education in our country. There is a massive increase in public investment in education at all levels. In elementary education, in secondary education and in higher education.
We have strengthened Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and expanded the mid-day meal programme upto upper primary level in all districts of the country. About 14 crore children are being provided mid-day meals under this scheme.
We are establishing 6,000 new high quality model schools, with at least one school in each block. 373 new colleges are being opened in backward districts. We are opening 30 new universities, 8 new IITs, 7 new IIMs, 20 new IIITs, 5 new Indian Institutes of Science, 2 Schools of Planning and Architecture, 10 NITs, and 1,000 new polytechnics.
I have called the 11th Five Year Plan our "National Education Plan". We want every section of our society to get access to education. Every child belonging to a family of SC, ST, OBC and all Minorities, every single child, boy or girl, must have access to modern education.
Our government is implementing several new scholarship schemes for the educational development of our children. Schemes for pre-matric and post-matric scholarships for children hailing from SC, ST, OBC and Minority families are being implemented. Special scholarships for meritorious students from SC, ST, OBC and Minority families have also been launched. Scholarships for overseas studies are being given to SC and ST students. National merit-cum-means scholarships for children hailing from economically weaker sections and children with disabilities have also been approved.
We have established a new Skill Development Mission which will work under the supervision of the Prime Minister. A Skill Development Corporation will be created by the Government with the active participation of the private sector to give special training to our young men and women, our workers and our technicians.
I am happy to say that we are sincerely implementing most of the recommendations of the Justice Sachar Committee Report on social, economic and educational empowerment of our Muslim community.
India will be transformed only when every Indian is literate, well fed, healthy and can secure gainful employment.
I want to see a modern India, imbued by a scientific temper, where the benefits of modern knowledge flow to all sections of society. This year we hope to send an Indian spacecraft, Chandrayan, to the moon. It will be an important milestone in the development of our space programme.