INDIA: PM addresses nation, says corruption a deep concern

Kashmiri women look on during celebrations marking India's Independence Day at The Bakshi Stadium in Srinagar on August 15, 2011. A strike, sponsored by both hardline and moderate factions of the Kashmiri's main separatist alliance, cleared the streets of the summer capital Srinagar and shut all shops and businesses. India's prime minister used his Independence Day address August 15 to try to reassure the country his government was taking 'the strictest possible action' against corruption after a string of scandals. - Getty Images
(August 15, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday said that corruption was a deep concern for all and needs simultaneous action on many fronts. "In the last few months many instances of corruption have come to light. In some cases, functionaries of the central government face allegations of corruption. In other cases, it is the functionaries of various state governments," Manmohan Singh said from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

In his address on India's 65th Independence Day, he said the government was taking "strictest possible action in cases of corruption that have surfaced".

But he declined to say much on it as the cases were sub-judice.

"It is essential that when we consider these issues, we do not create an atmosphere in which the country's progress comes into question. Any debate on these matters should reflect the confidence that we can overcome these challenges.

"However, this is a difficulty for which no government has a magic wand. We are taking simultaneous action on many fronts in our fight against corruption," he added.

Elaborting, Singh said corruption manifested itself in many forms and there were instances where funds meant for schemes for the people end up in the pocket of government officials.

"There are also cases where government contracts are wrongfully awarded to the wrong people. We cannot let such activities continue unchecked."

He said that "there is no single big step which we can take to eradicate corruption".

Singh said all political parties should "stand shoulder to shoulder" with the government in the fight against corruotion.

"To eradicate corruption, we have introduced, and will introduce, many bills in parliament.

"I hope that all political parties will cooperate in the process of converting these bills into statutes.

"On the issue of corruption, I would like to say in the end that we can win the fight against corruption only when each and every citizen of India cooperates in it."

Fair, transparent land acquisition law soon: PM

The Prime Minister promised a new law on land acquisition soon that will be fair and transparent to protect the interests of farmers and also address the need for industrialization.

"I am fully aware of the tensions caused in some parts of the country because of acquisition of land for industry, infrastructure and urbanization. Our farmers have been especially affected by such acquisition," the prime minister said in his Independence Day address to the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

"Land acquisition is no doubt necessary for projects of public interest. But it should take place in a transparent and fair manner. The interests of those whose livelihoods are dependent on the land being acquired should be fully protected.

"We will ensure that no injustice is done to anyone in the process of land acquisition. Our government wants to replace the 117-year-old land acquisition law by a new law, which is forward looking and balanced."

The draft of the new legislation was circulated by the rural development ministry for consultations with and comments from all stake-holders. These can be sent to the ministry by the end of this month.

"We have initiated steps to build a consensus on it. We will soon introduce a bill in parliament to this end," he said.

India needs another farm revolution: PM

Saluting farmers for achieving a high output this year, the Prime Minister called for another Green Revolution to address the twin issues of checking prices and food security.

"I congratulate the country's farmers for their achievements this year. The production of foodgrain has been at a record level. Wheat, maize, pulses and oilseeds have all seen record levels of production," the prime minister said in his Independence Day speech from the Red Fort here.

"It is because of the hard work of our farmers that today there are proposals for export of foodgrain, sugar and cotton," he said.

The prime minister said India can tackle rising food prices only by higher production and productivity. This, he said, was also necessary to implement the food security law, promising heavily subsidized grain to the poor.

"We need a second Green Revolution in agriculture," he said. "We will accelerate our efforts in this direction in the 12th Plan."

The prime minister also assured farmers, particularly those who are small and marginal, that they would continue to get easy access to fertilisers, seeds and credit. "We also want to provide the best possible irrigation facilities to the farmers."
- Indo-Asian News Service
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