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Singh Mixes Patriotism and Politics on Independence Day Event

Manmohan Singh acknowledges problems, but claims his government provides solutions.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 8/17/2012, 4:13 AM

Singh celebrates
Singh celebrates
Reuters

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh marked his country's independence with an address to the nation on August 15, given from the Red Fort - the site where India's first prime minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, first hoisted the Indian flag 65 years ago. The speech mixed patriotism with politics, as Singh's Congress Party is facing criticism over economic difficulties and corruption.

Sing praised India's accomplishments during her 65 years of independence, but warned that she still has a lot to do and independence would be fully realized "only when we are able to banish poverty, illiteracy, hunger and backwardness from our country. This would be possible only when we learn from our failures and build on our successes", he said.

He explained that not everything depended on India, given the global economic downturn, but India had to resolve the internal problems that constitute impediment to growth. Despite adverse weather conditions, the government was doing its best to control inflation by providing subsidies.

Prime Minister Singh decried the lack of political consensus on economic issues and asserted that it was time to view economic questions in the same way the country viewed national security. This was a way of saying that the free market and socialist tendencies in his own coalition were hampering economic policy.

The Prime Minister conceded that India was going through a time of difficulties, but his countrymen should be aware of its achievements. During the last 8 years (ever since the Congress Party led coalition had returned to power), it had increased employment in the rural sector and linked more houses to electricity "Our next target is to provide electricity to each and every household in our country in the next 5 years and to also improve the supply of electricity." This was an oblique way of acknowledging the recent massive power failures that India endured and that tarnished her reputation as a modern country.

Singh, in the same manner, acknowledged the corruption issue: "We will continue our efforts to bring more transparency and accountability in the work of public servants and to reduce corruption. But we will also take care that these measures do not result in a situation in which the morale of public functionaries taking decisions in public interest gets affected because of baseless allegations and unnecessary litigation." In other words, it’s a problem but let us not get carried away.