Second part of the text of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Independence Day speech

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New Delhi, Aug.15 : Following is the second 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.

Brothers and Sisters,

Providing employment has been a special priority for us. Our policies for agriculture, for industry, for infrastructure development and for skill

development, will all promote employment.

Our beloved former Prime Minister Shrimati Indira Gandhi had said, "Garibi Hatao". Our leader Shrimati Sonia Gandhi has given us the slogan,

"Rozgar Badhao". Our Government is making special efforts to create "rozgar" to fight "garibi".

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme is a historic initiative of our Government. Today the entire country is covered by this

programme. The NREGA is providing minimum livelihood support to the crores of neediest among us. It is aimed to soften the sharp edges of

poverty.

To create more employment we need more investment in agriculture, in manufacturing and in infrastructure. We need a new wave of

industrialization to generate more employment. If industrial development has any adverse impact on some of our rural folk, we will ensure that

there is reasonable compensation and proper rehabilitation. A new Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy has been formulated and we will seek

Parliament's approval for it.

We have introduced a bill in Parliament to provide social security to the workers of the unorganized sector. Our Government has launched the

Aam Aadmi Beema Yojana, under which one member of each landless family in rural areas will be insured. We have also started a programme

to provide health insurance to Below Poverty Line families of workers in the unorganized sector. Citizens above 65 years of age, living below the

poverty line are being covered under the Indira Gandhi Pension Scheme.

My dear countrymen,

In the past four years we have seen a sharp increase in the rate of investment. This has contributed to an increase in the rate of growth of the

economy.

For the first time in history, we have had four years of nearly 9.0 percent economic growth. India is among the world's fastest growing economies.

But 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. 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.

Our government has worked hard to ensure that in India the rate of inflation is not as high as in many other countries. We have also 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.

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.

Brothers and Sisters,

Today, while speaking about the achievements of our government, I wish to make one more promise. We have done much, but I realize that there

is more to do. 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. We need to take forward our 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.

ANI

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