Independence Day Address
By the Prime Minister of India
August 15, 2008
My dear countrymen, brothers, sisters and my dear children
Greetings to all of you on this happy occasion of our Independence Day. This
is a sacred day for every Indian. Today we remember the sacrifice of those
who under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi fought for our freedom from
foreign rule. Today we remember the hard work and dedication of all those
who have toiled to build a free and modern India. And we re-dedicate
ourselves to that cause. We remember our farmers, our workers and our
teachers. We remember our soldiers - who defend our borders in snowy
mountains, in deserts, in jungles, on the shores and in the oceans.
Brothers and Sisters,
Four years ago, on this day, I stood here before you and spoke to you about
our Government’s new vision for a new India. I said to you that it is our
desire to build an India that is just and humane; an India that treats all
its citizens as equals;
an India that is prosperous; an India that lives in peace; an India in which
everyone can find work suited to his or her talent and can work for his or
her brighter future. An India that is secular, that is fair and just to all
its people. An India united in its diversity. It has been our sincere
endeavour to work for the building of such an India.
Brothers and Sisters,
Four years ago I stood here and said to you that I have no promises to make,
but I have promises to keep. The implementation of the National Common
Minimum Programme, was our promise to keep;
To give a "new deal to rural India", was our promise to keep;
To make our economy and society inclusive was our promise to keep;
To take India to its rightful place in the comity of nations, was our
promise to keep;
It has been the sincere endeavour of our Government to keep each of these
promises. We have given a new deal to rural India. Through the Rashtriya
Krishi Vikas Yojana we are investing Rs. 25000 crore in agriculture; To
provide relief to our debt distressed farmers we have waived loans taken
from the banks amounting to about Rs. 71000 crore; In the past four years we
have increased bank credit for agricultural sector from Rs 81000 crore to Rs
225000 crore, and have reduced the interest rates for farm loans; In order
to improve the economic conditions of farmers we have steeply increased the
procurement prices for food grains; 50% for wheat and 30% for paddy; The
National Food Security Mission has been set up to enhance production of
rice, wheat and pulses; Irrigation, watershed development, rain fed areas
development, and flood management have received our special attention; Our
effort at increasing investment in rural areas and reducing the debt burden
of farmers has turned our agricultural economy around.
After almost a decade of stagnation especially from 1998 to 2004, investment
in agriculture is increasing and there has been a revival in this area. We
have had record production of foodgrains, cotton and sugar in 2007-08. Our
farms are once again green. Our godowns are once again filling up. Our
farmers are once again hopeful about their future and their welfare.
Brothers and Sisters,
I spent the first ten years of my life in a village that had no electricity,
no drinking water supply, no doctor, no roads and no phones. I had to walk
many miles to a school. I had to study at night in the dim light of a
kerosene lamp. After independence there has been considerable development in
rural areas, yet many of our citizens still live a life that I lived in my
That is why when our Government took over, we launched Bharat Nirman, to
build rural infrastructure. Our Government is committed to transforming
rural India. In these four years we have taken important initiatives. I am
confident that a new and prosperous India will be built due to our efforts.
My dear Countrymen,
Four years ago I spoke to you about our "Seven Sutras" – the seven
priorities for our Government – agriculture, water, education, health care,
employment, urban renewal and infrastructure.
In each area we have taken important initiatives. I have already spoken
about our initiatives for agricultural development and farmer’s welfare.
The second important area of development has been infrastructure
development. There is a new dynamism in our railways. New roads are being
built. New seaports and airports are being developed. More and more of our
people now live in our cities. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Mission
has been funding urban development and modernization of our cities. The
National Rural Health Mission has been expanding public health facilities
and services in rural areas.
As someone who started his professional life as a teacher, I feel proud to
say that our Government has been giving special attention to the development
of education in our country. There is a massive increase in public
investment in education at all levels. In elementary education, in secondary
education and in higher education.
We have strengthened Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and expanded the mid-day meal
programme upto upper primary level in all districts of the country. About 14
crore children are being provided mid-day meals under this scheme. We are
establishing 6000 new high quality model schools, with at least one school
in each block. 373 new colleges are being opened in backward districts. We
are opening 30 new universities, 8 new IITs, 7 new IIMs, 20 new IIITs, 5 new
Indian Institutes of Science, 2 Schools of Planning and Architecture, 10
NITs, and a 1000 new polytechnics.
I have called the 11th Five Year Plan our "National Education Plan". We want
every section of our society to get access to education. Every child
belonging to a family of SC, ST, OBC and all Minorities, every single child,
boy or girl, must have access to modern education. Our Government is
implementing several new scholarship schemes for the educational development
of our children. Schemes for pre-matric and post-matric scholarships for
children hailing from SC, ST, OBC and Minority families are being
implemented. Special scholarships for meritorious students from SC, ST, OBC
and Minority families have also been launched. Scholarships for overseas
studies are being given to SC and ST students. National merit-cum-means
scholarships for children hailing from economically weakers sections and
children with disabilities have also been approved.
We have established a new Skill Development Mission which will work under
the supervision of the Prime Minister. A Skill Development Corporation will
be created by the Government with the active participation of the private
sector to give special training to our young men and women, our workers and
I am happy to say that we are sincerely implementing most of the
recommendations of the Justice Sachar Committee Report on social, economic
and educational empowerment of our Muslim community.
India will be transformed only when every Indian is literate, well fed,
healthy and can secure gainful employment. I want to see a modern India,
imbued by a scientific temper, where the benefits of modern knowledge flow
to all sections of society. This year we hope to send an Indian space craft,
Chandrayan, to the moon. It will be an important milestone in the
development of our space programme.
Brothers and Sisters,
Providing employment has been a special priority for us. Our policies for
agriculture, for industry, for infrastructure development and for skill
development, will all promote employment. Our beloved former Prime Minister
Shrimati Indira Gandhi had said, "Garibi Hatao". Our leader Shrimati Sonia
Gandhi has given us the slogan, "Rozgar Badhao". Our Government is making
special efforts to create "rozgar" to fight "garibi".
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme is a historic initiative
of our Government. Today the entire country is covered by this programme.
The NREGA is providing minimum livelihood support to the crores of neediest
among us. It is aimed to soften the sharp edges of poverty. To create more
employment we need more investment in agriculture, in manufacturing and in
infrastructure. We need a new wave of industrialization to generate more
employment. If industrial development has any adverse impact on some of our
rural folk, we will ensure that there is reasonable compensation and proper
rehabilitation. A new Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy has been
formulated and we will seek Parliament’s approval for it.
We have introduced a bill in Parliament to provide social security to the
workers of the unorganized sector. Our Government has launched the Aam Aadmi
Beema Yojana, under which one member of each landless family in rural areas
will be insured. We have also started a programme to provide health
insurance to Below Poverty Line families of workers in the unorganized
sector. Citizens above 65 years of age, living below the poverty line are
being covered under the Indira Gandhi Pension Scheme.
My dear countrymen,
In the past four years we have seen a sharp increase in the rate of
investment. This has contributed to an increase in the rate of growth of the
economy. For the first time in history, we have had four years of nearly
9.0% economic growth. India is among the world’s fastest growing economies.
But there are new challenges that we face. We have the challenge of
inflation. I know how much each one of you is concerned about the recent
rise in prices. The inflation we have seen this year is basically due to
external factors. All over the world and in global markets the price of
food, fuel and other commodities has been rising. In many developing
countries the rate of inflation is double that in India. Our Government has
worked hard to ensure that in India the rate of inflation is not as high as
in many other countries. We have also taken special measures to insulate the
poorer sections of our society from the full impact of rising food and fuel
prices. Our Government has not raised the price of kerosene and fertilizers.
We have not raised the issue price of wheat and rice under PDS.
We are taking determined measures to bring prices under reasonable control.
I have urged all Chief Ministers to improve and strengthen the PDS to ensure
availability of essential commodities to the common man at reasonable
prices. The Reserve Bank of India is moderating the growth of money supply
in the country so that inflation can be controlled. However, while making
these efforts we should avoid doing anything which hurts our growth.
Brothers and Sisters,
Today, while speaking about the achievements of our Government, I wish to
make one more promise. We have done much, but I realize that there is more
to do. The problem of malnutrition is a curse that we must remove. Our
efforts to provide every child with access to education and to improve
health care services for all citizens will continue. We need to take forward
our initiatives for giving equal status to women and for their social and
economic empowerment. I promise to you that we will continue striving for
the development and prosperity of our country. We will work hard to take the
country to greater heights in all fields.
Brothers and Sisters,
We must apply modern science and technology to find long term solutions to
our energy problem. Our crude oil and gas reserves are limited. We must find
alternative energy sources. I would like our scientists and engineers to
find ways in which we can make better use of solar energy, wind energy,
bio-gas and other sources of energy.
Our economy must grow at the rate of at least ten per cent every year to get
rid of poverty and generate employment for all. A basic requirement for
sustained growth, and for the development of our agriculture and industry is
availability of energy, particularly electricity. All over the world, there
is growing realization of the importance of atomic energy to meet the
challenge of energy security and climate change. It is a clean,
environmental friendly and renewable source of energy.
India’s atomic scientists and technologists are world class. They have
developed nuclear energy capacities despite heavy odds. But there are
handicaps which have adversely affected our atomic energy programme. We have
inadequate production of uranium. The quality of our uranium resources is
not comparable to those of other producers. Many countries have imposed
sanctions on trade with India in nuclear materials, nuclear equipment and
nuclear technology. As a result, our nuclear energy programme has suffered.
The nuclear agreement that we are negotiating with developed countries will
end India’s nuclear isolation. It will open up new opportunities for trade
in dual-use high technologies and nuclear materials and equipment, opening
up new pathways to accelerate industrialization of our country. It will
enable us to provide electricity to meet the needs of our farmers, our
artisans, our traders and our industry.
Brothers and Sisters,
Four years ago I said to you that an important challenge we face is the
challenge of providing good governance. We have taken several steps to make
Government transparent, efficient and responsive. The Right to Information
Act was one major step. We have initiated reform and modernization of
Government. The National e-Governance Plan will make it easier for all our
citizens to deal with the various agencies of Government.
We have completed the examination of the report of the Sixth Pay Commission.
We have gone beyond the recommendations of the Commission in increasing
emoluments of government employees. While doing this we have taken special
care of the interests and welfare of our armed forces and para-military
forces, and government employees working at lower levels in our civil
services. This is one more step in making Government more efficient.
We need more reforms at all levels of Government. We want to improve our
schools, our hospitals and other public services. The Panchayati Raj
Institutions have an important role to play in decentralization and reform
of Government. We must enhance their administrative and financial powers. I
appeal to State Governments to take all possible steps for improving
governance and to help in the Central Government’s initiatives.
My dear Countrymen,
Terrorism, extremism, communalism and fundamentalism have emerged as major
challenges to the unity and integrity of our country. The recent terrorist
attacks in Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and other parts of the country have
shocked the nation. What words can I find to condemn such acts of barbarism.
I share the sorrow and grief of people affected by terrorism. The Government
of India will take concrete steps to rehabilitate and help such families.
I commend our security forces and intelligence agencies for the dedication
with which they are dealing with the problem under difficult circumstances.
But I agree that we have to further strengthen our intelligence agencies and
police forces to deal with the problem of terrorism.
We will examine the functioning of our intelligence agencies and police and
security forces and take all possible steps to equip them to tackle this
challenge. Whatever resources are required, will be provided. Whatever
manpower is required will be provided. We are firm in our resolve to meet
the challenge of terrorism. I urge the State Governments, all political
parties, civil society groups and social and religious leaders to cooperate
with us in rooting out terrorism from our country.
Brothers and Sisters,
I am confident that we will overcome these challenges. But this requires
hard work and unity of purpose. This requires a politics of consensus, not
confrontation. This requires dialogue among communities, not discord. The
challenge of communalism, of extremism and of terrorism cannot be won by a
nation divided. The challenge of environmental and ecological destruction
cannot be won by a society divided.
The challenge of economic modernization and social development of all, of
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, of Other Backward Classes and
Minorities, cannot be won by a people divided.
Brothers and Sisters,
I have said on a number of occasions that I am greatly concerned about the
problem of regional imbalances in development. Some parts of our country are
doing much better than others. Some States are being left behind. This
pattern has persisted for far too long. We must ensure that the less
developed States catch up with the developed ones.
We must pay special attention to the development of the North-Eastern
region. Our Government has taken several initiatives to increase public
investment in the North-East and in Jammu & Kashmir. We are investing in
infrastructure and in education in these regions to encourage development
and generate employment.
Jammu & Kashmir and the North-eastern region require an era of peace for
them to catch up with the more developed parts of the country. We have been
taking various initiatives to promote peace and stability in these States.
These initiatives will be taken forward.
The recent incidents in the State of Jammu and Kashmir are a cause for
concern. In this hour of crisis, divisive politics will lead us nowhere. I
appeal to all political parties to keep the long term interests of Jammu and
Kashmir in view and come together to find a permanent solution to the
problems of the State.
The sacred shrine of Shri Amar Nath inspires all Indians to march together.
This shrine is a shining example of our secular tradition, where Hindu
pilgrims have been looked after for years by their Muslim brothers. Issues
related to this sacred place, especially the issue of providing the best
possible facilities to pilgrims, can only be resolved in an atmosphere of
peace and goodwill. Dividing people in the name of religion can complicate
these issues further which can also pose a threat to the unity and integrity
of the country. I appeal to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to cooperate
with us in establishing peace in the State. It is my conviction that all
issues can be resolved only through dialogue and peaceful means.
Brothers and Sisters,
Our ancient Himalayas are under environmental threat. If the Himalayan
glaciers recede, the flow of water in our sacred rivers will go down.
Climate change can disrupt our economy in several ways. Some of our coastal
areas could be submerged. Our monsoon pattern may change. We need long term
solutions to such threats. A national consensus is also required for the
Government to evolve effective policies to deal with these problems.
Our Government has come forward with a National Action Plan on Climate
Change. This plan shows how each of us must adapt our ways of working and
living and how we must treat our natural resources, so that our carbon
emissions remain within reasonable limits and our environment is protected.
My fellow countrymen,
Our goal in South Asia is to seek a peaceful, stable and prosperous
neighbourhood. We seek to accelerate the pace of social and economic
development in our country and our region, while safeguarding our national
security. Our foreign policy has been based on these principles.
We wish all our neighbours well. We welcome the strengthening of democratic
forces in our neighbourhood, especially in Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan. The
recent blasts in our Embassy in Kabul have cast a shadow over our efforts to
normalize relations with Pakistan and to bring a lasting and honourable
peace in our region. I have personally conveyed my concern and
disappointment to the Government of Pakistan.
If this issue of terrorism is not addressed, all the good intentions that we
have for our two peoples to live in peace and harmony will be negated. We
will not be able to pursue the peace initiatives we want to take. The
terrorists and those who support them are enemies of the people of India and
Pakistan, of friendship between the two countries and of peace in the region
and the world. We must defeat them.
In the last year we have strengthened our relations with the major powers,
Latin American countries, Arab countries and African countries. We will
continue our efforts in this direction, keeping in view our national
India is today viewed with respect as one of the world’s fastest growing
economies. People of Indian Origin are engaged in diverse activities around
the world and their capabilities are recognized the world over. Their
achievements inspire us. The world today expects India to regain its due
place in the comity of nations. This is a moment of opportunity for us.
We are rapidly marching forward to regain our rightful place in the comity
of nations. But to reach that goal we have a lot of work to do at home. We
have to overcome each of the challenges I have spoken about. We have to
forge a greater unity of purpose between various political parties, between
different communities, between all sections of our society, rich and poor.
We have to manage our natural and financial resources more prudently. We
have an obligation to our future generations. We cannot think only for
ourselves. We cannot think only about survival from day to day, from year to
year and from one election to another. We have to think about the welfare
and well-being of our children and grandchildren, their grandchildren and
If we resolve to work together as a nation, and work hard and with
commitment to the welfare of all our people, there is nothing that we cannot
Let us resolve today to stand together, to strengthen the unity and
integrity of our country and to stand firm in our determination to build a
new India of our dreams.
My dear children, please join me in saying Jai Hind
~ Dr. Manmohan Singh