New Delhi, Aug 15 (IBNS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday said no citizen of the country should go hungry.
“Our Government wants a food safety net in which no citizen of ours would go hungry. This requires enhanced agricultural production which is possible only by increasing productivity,” he said delivering his 64th Independence Day speech from the ramparts of Red Fort in the national capital on Aug 15.
The PM said the government has taken care to provide remunerative prices to farmers so that they are encouraged to increase production.
“Support prices have been increased every year in the last six years. The support price for wheat was enhanced to Rs.1,100 per quintal last year from Rs.630 per quintal in 2003-04. In paddy, this increase was from Rs.550 per quintal to Rs.1,000 per quintal. But one effect of providing higher prices to farmers is that food prices in the open market also increase,” he said.
He said his government is making ‘every possible effort’ to control high inflation in the country.
“Today, I do not want to go into the detailed reasons for high inflation. But, I would certainly like to say that we are making every possible effort to tackle this problem. I am also confident that we will succeed in these efforts,” Singh said
“I know that in the last few months high inflation has caused you difficulties. It is the poor who are the worst affected by rising prices, especially when the prices of commodities of every day use like foodgrains, pulses, vegetables increase. It is for this reason that we have endeavored to minimize the burden of increased prices on the poor.”
Singh said the Government has laid ‘special emphasis’ on the welfare of Indian farmers and on increasing agricultural production.
“After we came to power in 2004, we realized that the state of Indian agriculture in the preceding 7-8 years was not satisfactory. Our Government increased public investment in agriculture. We started new schemes for increasing production.
“We encouraged agricultural planning at the district level. I am happy that the growth rate of our agriculture has increased substantially in the last few years. But we are still far from achieving our goal. We need to work harder so that we can increase the agricultural growth rate to 4 per cent per annum,” the PM said.
Referring to increase in petroleum prices, Singh said: “It is our responsibility that we manage our economy with prudence so that our development is not affected adversely in the future because of high debt. We import about 80 per cent of our requirement of petroleum products.”
Lamenting that a large part of Indian population still suffers from persistent poverty, hunger and disease, Singh said: “But today we do not need many new programmes to achieve our goals. However, we do need to implement the schemes we have already started more effectively, minimizing the chances of corruption and misuse of public money.”
“We want to achieve this in partnership with the State Governments, Panchayat Raj Institutions and civil society groups,” the PM said.
: : via IBNS : :