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India headed to ‘new glory’ : PM
Published on 16 Aug. 2009 1:28 AM IST
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Striking a positive note on India’s 63rd Independence Day, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday asserted that Indians had immense faith and confidence in themselves and the world’s largest democracy was headed to a “new glory”. In his sixth consecutive address from the ramparts of the Red Fort, the prime minister sought to allay fears emanating from the global economic meltdown, unending terrorism and the swine flu to assert that India had the strength and resilience to overcome all obstacles. Speaking in Hindi from a prepared text, the 76-year-old scholar-politician referred to a wide range of issues from climate change and water shortage to economy, terrorism and a new world order. But his tone was positive and he vowed to return India to a 9 percent annual growth. “Some people question whether India will ever be able to attain its true potential,” Manmohan Singh said, as a slight drizzle accompanied his first Red Fort speech since he was voted back to office in May. “I have no doubt about this. We are rapidly moving forward. We have faith in ourselves. We have political stability. Our democracy is an example for the whole world. We are gaining in economic strength. Most importantly, we have confidence in our youth... I am sure that they will take our country to a new glory,” he said. Around 700 invitees, including school children attired in the national tricolour as well as political VIPs and diplomats, packed the seated and open enclosure facing the Red Fort, the majestic Mughal-built 17th century monument that is at the heart of independence day celebrations. Pointing out that India’s economic growth slid to 6.7 percent in 2008-09, he said “it is only a result of our policies that the global crisis has affected us to a lesser extent than many other countries”. “Restoring our growth rate to 9 percent is the greatest challenge we face,” he said. “We expect there will be an improvement in the situation by the end of this year.” Singh said the time had come for India to unleash another Green Revolution to dramatically boost its food output. “The country needs another Green Revolution and we will try our best to make it possible,” he said. He admitted that deficit rains this year would have “some adverse impact on our crops” and promised to help farmers in distress. Manmohan Singh made a reference to swine flu that has killed 23 people and affected 1,400. He said while the central and state governments would do everything to contain the disease, “the situation doesn’t warrant a disruption of our daily lives because of fear and anxiety”. Perhaps for the first time in recent years, the prime minister made no reference to Pakistan by name even as he addressed issues related to South Asia, terrorism and Jammu and Kashmir. Describing terrorism as a global threat, Manmohan Singh said there was no place in Indian democracy to those who resorted to violence to voice their disagreement. “The government will deal firmly with such people.” He said India’s security forces and intelligence agencies were being strengthened following the audacious terror attack on Mumbai by Pakistani terrorists that left nearly 170 people dead last year. Manmohan Singh said his government was committed to eradicating backwardness and unemployment and reduce disparities in income and wealth so as to combat the Maoist appeal.

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