PM Bats for Farmers, Minorities

In his annual Independence Day address from the ramparts of the historical Red Fort in New Delhi., Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday waxed on the inclusive goals and secular credentials of his government besides issuing a stern ultimatum to hoarders and black marketers.

Premier Singh who recently roved his political calcium while emerging as only the second Indian Prime Minister, after Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, to win re-election afyer completing a full term at the PMO.

With a deficient rainfall threatening economic indices, Singh, while warning hoarders and black marketers of stern action, reassured farm communities.

“We have postponed the date for repayment of bank loans of our farmers. We are also giving additional support to farmers for payment of interest on short-term crop loans.”

“All efforts will be made to control the rising prices of food grains, pulses and other goods of daily use,” he promised.

Complimenting the electorate on his recent electoral victory, Singh said the voters had chosen “a political arrangement which is secular and which includes many varied strands of thought.”

He said that the decision reflected favor for “a politics that integrates our country and our society” and “a democratic way of life which provides for resolution of differences through debate and discussion.”

Premier Singh said his government had earned the mandate to initiate a “new era of cooperation and harmony in our national life,” he clarified that in his view taking care of derived sections of society did not amount to appeasement.

With the mandate firmly tucked under his belt, Singh said his government “will give its full attention to the well being of our … minority communities.” And promised that existing schemes for minority welfare would be taken forward.

“The funds for the special schemes taken up for the development of minority concentration districts have been enhanced quite substantially this year.”

Speaking on his pet subject, the Prime Minister termed the restoration of the growth rate of 9 per cent “the greatest challenge” facing his government and said the issue would be tackled by increase in capital inflows, encouragement of exports and increasing public investment and expenditure.

While promising an economic recovery by the year end, he cautioned that everyone would have to “bear with the fallout of the global economic slowdown.”

Amid huge layoffs in the industry he urged businessmen and industrialists to “fulfil their social obligations fully.”

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