M A I N   N E W S

PM for new deal to rural India
Says govt will pursue composite dialogue with Pak
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service


  • Creation of single market across the country for agricultural produce.
  • Urgent task is reform of government and public institutions.
  • Energy policy package to cover energy security, access, affordable pricing, environment.
  • Maintain credible nuclear deterrent.
  • Comprehensive approach to national security.
  • Independent foreign policy based on supreme national interests.
  • Government to actively pursue composite dialogue with Pakistan.
  • UPA committed to give new deal to rural India.
  • Need new thinking in Health policy.

New Delhi, June 24
Underlining the need for reforms at every level of governance, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the nation today that he would like to see the creation of a “single market across the country” for both manufactured and agricultural produce with encouragement of agro-industry linkages.

He was categoric that the multi-faceted development agenda encompassing the concerns of the poor and disadvantaged sections of society could be met only by reforming the government and public institutions. “Clearly, this will be my main concern and challenge in the days to come and giving a new deal to rural India,” Dr Manmohan Singh observed in his address over All-India Radio and Doordarshan.

Devoting a major part of his speech to the mandate provided by the people to the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre, the Prime Minister stressed that such policies and programmes must be put in place which empower all our citizens to lead a life of dignity and self-respect.

Stressing that internal security remains an important challenge, he said terrorism poses a grave threat to the unity and progress of the country. “There shall be no doubt whatsoever about our resolve to deal with this insidious threat to our nation,” he added.

He said the UPA government was committed to the security and welfare of all minorities, the protection of the interests of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the backward classes and all weaker sections. “Equally, we are committed to the empowerment of women. We will ensure equal participation of all in the processes of government,” he maintained.

Apart from touching upon virtually every aspect of economic development — agriculture, health, education, infrastructure like irrigation, power, roads and railways, regional imbalances, gender disparities and minorities suffering not only from economic insecurity but also a sense of marginalisation from political governance processes — Dr Manmohan Singh maintained that the country would not deviate from an independent foreign policy “built on national consensus and based on our supreme national interest.”

He affirmed that his government would actively pursue the composite dialogue with Pakistan as “we desire to live in a neighbourhood of peace and prosperity. We are sincere about discussing and resolving all issues, including Jammu and Kashmir. We recognise that resolution of major issues requires national consensus and accommodation of public sentiment in both countries. It is evident that terrorism and violence would cast a dark shadow over this process.”

He reiterated the government’s sincere efforts to jointly realise the vast potential for cooperation and ensure mutual security, stability and development with all other South Asian neighbours as well.

The Prime Minister said the country would maintain a credible minimum nuclear deterrent along with a policy of no first use in our nuclear doctrine. “India is a responsible country and we will continue to work to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. At the same time we remain committed to the goal of universal nuclear disarmament” he asserted.

On Sino-Indian relations, Dr Manmohan Singh noted: “We are encouraged by positive developments which we are committed to strengthening our relations. Bilateral economic cooperation has shown remarkable growth and diversification. We shall carry forward the process of discussion to resolve the boundary question from the political perspective of our bilateral relations.”

He described as a “fact of considerable importance” India’s strengthened relationship with the USA. As two of the world’s great democracies, he welcomed the expansion of cooperation between the two governments to include new and mutually beneficial areas, particularly high technology.

The vibrancy of India’s partnership with Russia has withstood the flux of the post-Cold War world. The diversification of this relationship would be accelerated particularly in defence, high technology, space and nuclear energy while intensifying economic cooperation, he said.

Speaking about India’s strong relations with the countries of South-east and West Asia, the government aimed to build upon the cultural affinities, economic interaction and a vibrant expatriate community.

Dr Manmohan Singh expressed concern about the developments in Iraq and the suffering of the people. He hoped democracy would be restored and full sovereignty transferred to a truly representative government of Iraq.

Along with pursuing a cooperative relationship with the European Union to expand political and economic frontiers of cooperation, the Prime Minister said bilateral ties would also be strengthened with the developing countries of Latin America and Africa. “Similarly, strong ties with Central Asia are of importance for international trade as well as “for our strategic and energy security,” he said.

Touching upon the essence of the National Common Minimum Programme, he said it was aimed at promoting economic growth coupled with advancing the cause of distributive justice and creating new employment opportunities. “It is about making government more effective, efficient and people friendly,” he said.

He maintained that the government would reverse the neglect of public investment in irrigation by addressing the specific problems of each river basin in an environment and people-friendly manner. On water having emerged as a critical and contentious issue across the country, he called for formulating water management policies to address the needs of farmers and weaker sections, especially women and city-dwellers. “We will have to find innovative, cost-effective and community-based solutions,” the Prime Minister added.

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