New Delhi: Addressing the nation yesterday, for the
first time after becoming prime minister, Manmohan Singh
said that reforms were "not just about freeing private
enterprise from the shackles of bureaucratic control,"
and policies aimed at promoting growth must have to "advance
the cause of distributive justice and create new employment
remarked that the benefits of accelerated economic growth
had "not touched all our citizens in equal measure."
Growth, he pointed out, "is not an end in itself"
and is only "a means to generate employment, banish
poverty, hunger and homelessness and improve the standard
of living of the mass of our people."
pointed out that much of the focus of economic reforms
in the past decade had been on reducing the role of the
government in controlling the private sector. While these
reforms were necessary, there are many critical areas
though, where the government has a role.
include the provision of social and physical infrastructure
for development, the provision of elementary education
and public health, providing drinking water and sanitation.
They also include economic infrastructure, which in our
country in large part must be provided by the government
such as irrigation, power, roads and railways. Our people
expect the government to be proactive and sensitive to
their needs. In each of these areas, at each level of
governance, the reform of government is today an urgent
task before us," Singh said.
Singh promised a "New Deal" to rural India and
the agriculture sector, which, he contended, had registered
a significant slowdown in growth over the past five years.
Accordingly, public investment in agriculture would be
"greatly increased,"which will be over and above
the measures to enhance farm credit and restructure debts
of farmers announced last week.
government will "reverse the neglect of public investment
in irrigation." The prime minister also indicated
the government''s intent to enact an employment guarantee
legislation by stating that a "food for work programme,
efficiently implemented, can greatly assist in achieving
added that the focus of reforms would be on agriculture
and the way public institutions operate in the country.
"The Indian farmer has suffered from too many controls
and restrictions. There are still far
too many internal barriers to trade that must go. We must
re-examine those aspects of our policies that prevent
a creative interaction between farmers and agro-industries,"