(Excerpts of the highlights of PM’s speech)
My dear countrymen,
I heartily greet 120 crore Indians on the 64th anniversary of our independence.
I have been addressing you from the historic Red Fort for the last seven years. In these seven years, our country has achieved much. However, I am also well aware that a lot remains to be done. I know that if we work together, we can face any challenge. However, it is necessary that we rise above personal or political interests and build consensus on issues of vital national importance.
Brothers and sisters,
We are building the edifice of modern India on the foundation of the hard work and sacrifices of our soldiers, our farmers and our workers. We will not let their hard work and sacrifices go waste. We will convert the dreams of our freedom fighters into reality. In the last seven years, our government has strived for political stability and social and economic progress. We have established an environment of communal harmony in the country. In these seven years, the pace of our economic development has been rapid. We have achieved this success despite the global economic slow-down of 2008 and rising prices of energy and commodities in world markets.
We have enacted laws which would guarantee our people their basic entitlements. After the rights to education, employment and information, we will soon enact a legislation for providing food security to the people.
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. We are taking the strictest possible action in cases of corruption that have surfaced. These cases are sub-judice and hence I will say nothing more on this subject.
Corruption manifests itself in many forms. In some instances, funds meant for schemes for the welfare of the common man end up in the pocket of government officials. In some other instances government discretion is used to favour a selected few. There are also cases where government contracts are wrongfully awarded to the wrong people. We cannot let such activities continue unchecked.
I believe that there is no single big step which we can take to eradicate corruption. In fact, we will have to act simultaneously on many fronts.
We will have to improve our justice delivery system. Everyone should know that quick action will be taken against the corrupt and punishment meted out to them. If our system delivers justice in an effective manner, government officials would think twice before committing a wrong act out of greed or under political pressure.
We want a strong Lokpal to prevent corruption in high places. We have recently introduced a Bill in Parliament to achieve this. Now only Parliament can decide what type of Lokpal legislation should be enacted. I am aware of the differences of opinion on some aspects of the Bill. Those who don’t agree with this Bill can put forward their views to Parliament, political parties and even the press. However, I also believe that they should not resort to hunger strikes and fasts unto death.
It is not appropriate to bring the judiciary under the ambit of Lokpal. We believe that any such provision would go against the independence of the judiciary. However, we do need a framework in which the judiciary becomes more accountable. It is with this aim that we have introduced the Judicial Accountability Bill in Parliament. I am confident that this Bill will be passed soon.
An alert press and an aware citizenry can be very helpful in the fight against corruption. The Indian press is known for its independence and activism throughout the world. The Right to Information legislation that we have enacted has enabled our press and people to keep a strict watch on the work of the government.
Today many government decisions, which in the absence of this Act would escape public scrutiny, are coming to light. I believe that this is a big step forward in eradicating corruption.
Brothers and sisters,
.I have often referred to the 11th Five Year Plan as an education plan. We will lay the same emphasis on health in the 12th plan as we laid on education in the 11th plan. I will propose to the National Development Council that the 12th plan should be specially focused on health. I also promise that funds will not be a constraint in the important areas of education and health.
The figures of census 2011 show improvements in most areas. But it is a matter of deep regret for us that the sex ratio has shown a decline from the level of the last census. For an improvement in this state of affairs, it is not only necessary to implement the existing laws effectively but it is also essential to change the approach with which our society views girls and women. I would especially appeal to the State governments and social service organizations to take steps for empowerment of women and for improving their status in society.
Our society and country are changing rapidly because of our fast economic growth. Today our people look towards the future with new hope. They have higher aspirations. Our young men and women strive for path breaking achievements. We should all build an environment in the country in which the energy and enthusiasm of the people are channelised into activities of nation building. Our institutions should encourage constructive utilization of the potential of our people. Our entrepreneurs and businessmen should not feel constrained in their activities. Our industrialists should have the opportunity to set up new industries so that our youth can get additional avenues for productive employment. We should all stay away from politics that create suspicion or apprehension amongst those connected with industry, business and investment.
We should also have faith that our democracy, our institutions and our social ideals and values have the capacity to deal with any difficulty. We should all have faith in ourselves. The faith that we can build a promising future for ourselves. The faith, that united we can do the most difficult of tasks. Let us all resolve to build a bright future for our country.
Dear Children, join me in saying