New Delhi, Aug.15 : The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Friday said that his United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government is making a sincere endeavor to keep each of its promises made when it came to power four-and-half-years ago.
Addressing the nation on the occasion of India's 62nd Independence Day from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort, Dr. Singh said: "We have given a new deal to rural India."
"Four years ago, on this day, I stood here before you and spoke to you about our Government's new vision for a new India. I said to you that it is our desire to build an India that is just and humane; an India that treats all its citizens as equals; an India that is prosperous; an India that lives in peace; an India in which everyone can find work suited to his or her talent and can work for his or her brighter future; an India that is secular, that is fair and just to all its people. An India united in its diversity. It has been our sincere endeavor to work for the building of such an India," Dr. Singh said.
He spoke about the several initiatives launched by his government for the inclusive economic growth of the country.
Highlighting various steps taken for the growth of agricultural sector, Dr. Singh said: " We have increased the bank credit for the sector from Rs.81, 000 crore to Rs.2, 25, 000 crore during the past four years. Our farms are once again green. Our godowns are once again filling up. Our farmers are once again hopeful about their future and their welfare."
He further pointed out that the Government has taken important initiatives on the 'Seven Sutras', a term coined by him four years ago, as priorities namely, agriculture, water, education, health care, employment, urban renewal and infrastructure.
He emphasized that "India will be transformed only when every Indian is literate, well fed, healthy and can secure gainful employment."
Promising to continue striving for the development and prosperity of the country, Dr. Singh assured "We will work hard to take the country to greater heights in all fields."
Stating that Government has taken special measures to insulate poorer sections from the impact of rising food and fuel prices, the Prime Minister said, "We are taking determined measures to bring prices under reasonable control."
Referring to initiatives taken in the agriculture sector, he said that through the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, the government is investing Rs.25000 crore
"To provide relief to our debt distressed farmers we have waived loans taken from the banks amounting to about Rs.71000 crore. In the past four years we have increased bank credit for agricultural sector from Rs.81000 crore to Rs.225000 crore, and have reduced the interest rates for farm loans. In order to improve the economic conditions of farmers we have steeply increased the procurement prices for food grains; fifty percent for wheat and 30 percent for paddy," Dr. Singh said.
Referring to the National Food Security Mission, he said that had been set up to enhance production of rice, wheat and pulses, and added that irrigation, watershed development, rain fed areas development, and flood management was also receiving the government's special attention.
"Our effort at increasing investment in rural areas and reducing the debt burden of farmers has turned our agricultural economy around," he said.
In an indirect reference to the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime, Dr. Singh said that the period between 1998 and 2004 was a period of stagnation, and now in the last four years, investment in agriculture had increased so much so that there has been a revival in this area.
"We have had record production of food grains, cotton and sugar in 2007-08. Our farms are once again green. Our godowns are once again filling up. Our farmers are once again hopeful about their future and their welfare," he said.
Recalling the travails of his youth, he said that he had to spend the first ten years of his 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," he said, and added that there were still "many of our citizens who live a life that I lived in my childhood."
Taking credit for the turnaround of rural India, Dr. Singh said that his government launched Bharat Nirman Scheme 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," he said.
Referring to the seven priorities of his government, he said: "In each area we have taken important initiatives."
As far as infrastructure development was concerned, he said: "There is a new dynamism in the 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." 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.
He further described the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme as a historic initiative of his government.
"Today the entire country is covered by this programme. The NREGA is providing minimum livelihood support to the crores of needy 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," he said.
He also said that a new rehabilitation and resettlement policy, to be approved by Parliament, would take care of the adverse impact of industrial development.
The Aam Aadmi Beema Yojana was also a praiseworthy programe, as it ensured that at least one member of each landless family in rural areas would be insured, Dr. Singh said.