Following is the text of Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh's New Year message to the nation:
"My Fellow Citizens,
I wish you all a peaceful, productive and secure New Year.
New Year's Day is a day of resolutions. Each of us makes our own
resolutions - to live a healthier life, to live a more honest
life, to live a better life and to live a happier life. I
sincerely hope in the New Year we can all work together with a new
resolve: to make our homes and neighbourhood, our village or town,
and our nation a better place to live in.
If each of us works towards that end, we can be sure that we are
also making the world a better and a safer place.
The year that has just ended was a very difficult year for the
world. Economic crises, socio economic tensions, political
upheavals in many developing countries and political deadlock in
some of the developed countries, all cast their shadow on 2011. A
'revolution of rising expectations', fostered by the extraordinary
reach of the electronic media and the connectivity provided by new
social networking platforms, has kept Governments around the world
on their toes.
We in India have had our share of problems.
The Indian economy slowed down and inflation edged up. Concern
about corruption moved to the centre stage.
We must not be too downcast at these events. All countries and
economies go through cycles. We must remember that downturns are
followed by upturns. Indeed, they are often a test of our ability
to respond to new challenges.
The task before us is clear. We must address the new concerns that
have arisen while remaining steadfast in our commitment to put the
nation on a development path which ensures rapid, inclusive and
sustainable growth. I want to assure you all on this New Year's
day that I personally will work to provide an honest and more
efficient government, a more productive, competitive and robust
economy and a more equitable and just social and political order.
I believe we have made more progress than is commonly realised. I
am personally delighted that Government was able to introduce the
Food Security Bill and the Lok Pal and Lok Ayukta Bill in
Parliament. The Lok Pal and Lok Ayukta Bill was passed by the Lok
Sabha. It is unfortunate that the Bill could not be passed in the
Rajya Sabha. However, our Government is committed to the enactment
of an effective Lok Pal Act. Taken together with the Right to
Information Act, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and
the Right to Education Act, these are legislative legacies that
generations of Indians will come to value, appreciate and benefit
On this New Year's Day I do not wish to dwell on the year gone by.
Instead, I would like to focus instead on the challenges of the
future, so that we can all work together to over come them.
Our biggest challenge today remains that of banishing poverty,
ignorance and disease. Simultaneously, we must work to build an
India that holds the promise of prosperity to the many millions of
our people who are just beginning to emerge out of poverty. We
must remain focused on this fundamental task in the Twelfth Plan
period which begins in 2012-13.
As I look ahead I see Five Key Challenges facing the nation. To
meet these challenges we need the concerted efforts of the central
government, the state governments, political parties and indeed
all concerned citizens.
First, there is the urgent challenge of eradicating poverty,
hunger and illiteracy and providing gainful employment to all. I
call this the challenge of Livelihood Security.
There are many steps we need to take to address this challenge and
of these, the most important is to empower every citizen with the
light of education. I say this with the deepest conviction because
I know what education did for me.
I was born into a family of modest means, in a village without a
doctor or a teacher, no hospital, no school, no electricity. I had
to walk miles every day to go to school, but I persevered and was
fortunate to be able to secure a high school education, and then
go on to higher education. It is this access to education that
transformed my life and gave me new opportunities which others
with my background could not dream of.
I firmly believe that educating our children, providing them with
employable skills, while also ensuring their good health, must be
our first and primary task. There is no better investment we can
make in the future - the future of our children, of our families,
of our communities, and of our nation.
Along with education and affordable health care, we must also
generate a growth process that can provide gainful employment to
all. This is the only way that we can wipe out poverty in a
However, since many elements of this strategy will take time to
bear full fruit, we must in the meantime pay urgent attention to
the needs of those who need immediate support. It is for this
reason that the government has taken steps to provide minimum
employment and access to food to those who need it most.
I believe that the initiatives we have taken to invest in
education and health, provide an employment guarantee and also
provide food security, constitute a robust response to the
challenge of providing greater Livelihood Security for our people.
My Fellow Citizens,
The second challenge that demands our attention is Economic
Security. Economic security comes from having an economy that can
produce the material output required to achieve desired
consumption levels for the people and one that can generate the
productive jobs needed to satisfy the aspirations of the
workforce. To reach this level we will have to ensure rapid growth
accompanied by adequate job creation. Rapid growth is also
necessary to generate the revenues we need to finance our
livelihood security programmes.
The process of economic reforms was initiated in the mid eighties
and accelerated the 1990s precisely to accelerate our growth
potential. Because of our democratic system, the reforms were
introduced gradually to begin with, in order to garner broad based
support. That we succeeded in this objective is evident from the
fact that successive governments of different political
complexions at the centre, and many governments belonging to
different political parties in the states, have more or less
pushed in the same direction. However, this gradualist pace also
meant that the full effects of the reforms took time to have
Yet, the fruits of this effort have been amply evident in the past
several years. The average growth rate of the economy was around 4
% per year before the 1980s. It increased to an average of about 8
% since 2004.
Although we have every reason to be satisfied with this
performance, it would be wrong to conclude that India is now
unshakeably set on a process of rapid growth. Our growth potential
is indeed established. But there are many challenges we have to
face if we want to maintain this growth in the years ahead, as
indeed we must.
To achieve sustained rapid growth we need to do more than halt the
current slowdown though that is certainly the first step. We need
to usher in a second agricultural revolution to ensure sufficient
growth in rural incomes. We also need to usher in the many reforms
needed to trigger rapid industrialisation and to build the
infrastructure which such industrialisation needs.
Rapid growth will also bring structural change, notably in the
rate of urbanisation. Our urban population is expected to grow
from 380 million at present to 600 million by 2030. We must be
able to provide productive jobs in the non agricultural sector for
this expanding urban population and we must also be able to expand
our urban infrastructure to deal with the expected expansion of
the urban population.
In 1991 when we liberated our economy from the shackles of the
Licence-Permit Raj, our main objective was to liberate the
creativity of every one of our citizens from the deadweight of
bureaucracy and corruption. Today's youth, born in the 1980s and
later, would have no memory of the kind of corruption that the
regime of controls and permits had created. To get a railway
ticket or a telephone connection you had to bribe someone. To buy
a scooter you had to bribe someone to jump the queue!
However, even as the creative energies of our people have been
unleashed and old forms of corruption have vanished, new forms of
corruption have emerged which need to be tackled. Elimination of
corruption is critical to support genuine entrepreneurship. It is
also the demand of the ordinary citizen who encounters corruption
all too often in everyday transactions with those in authority.
This is a serious problem that calls for a multi-dimensional
New institutions such as the Lokpal and the Lokayuktas are an
important part of the solution and we have initiated the process
for establishing them. But this is only one part of the solution.
We also need reforms in systems of government which would increase
transparency and minimise discretion so that the scope
of misgovernance is reduced. We have taken several steps in this
regard. We have introduced in Parliament a Bill on Citizen's
Charters which will empower citizens to demand services at
appropriate standards from government departments. We have
introduced a Bill on Judicial Accountability.
These initiatives will take time to have their full effect and we
must therefore be patient. But I do believe they are
transformational initiatives, which will be recognised as such a
few years down the line.
A critical element in ensuring economic security and prosperity is
the need for fiscal stability. India has paid a heavy price in the
past for fiscal profligacy. Many of us can recall the dark days of
1990-91 when we had to go around the world begging for aid.
Fortunately we were able to overcome the problem fairly quickly
and for most of the past two decades we have been able to hold our
head high, because we have managed our fiscal resources well. We
must ensure that the country does not go down that road once
I am concerned about fiscal stability in future because our fiscal
deficit has worsened in the past three years. This is mainly
because we took a conscious decision to allow a larger fiscal
deficit in 2009-10 in order to counter the global slowdown. That
was the right policy at the time. But like other countries that
resorted to this strategy, we have run out of fiscal space and
must once again begin the process of fiscal consolidation. This is
important to ensure that our growth process is not jeopardised
and, equally important, our national sovereignty and self respect
are not endangered.
The most important step for restoring fiscal stability in the
medium term is the Goods and Services Tax. This would modernise
our indirect tax system, increase economic efficiency and also
increase total revenues. Another important step is the phased
reduction in subsidies. Some subsidies, such as food subsidies are
justifiable on social grounds and are expected to expand once the
Food Security bill becomes operational. But there are other
subsidies that are not and these must be contained.
Some of the reforms needed for economic security attract
controversy and cause nervousness. This is understandable, but we
should learn from our past experience with reforms. Things that we
take for granted today caused similar controversy twenty years
ago. We should remember that change is necessary for development
and while we must anticipate change, and even protect the most
vulnerable from ill effects, we should not lock ourselves into a
blind refusal to contemplate change. If we have confidence in
ourselves, we will be able to meet any challenge.
The third challenge we face, is the challenge of Energy Security.
Energy is an essential for development because higher levels of
production inevitably involve larger energy use. Our per capita
energy levels are so low that we need, and must plan for, a
substantial growth in energy availability.
The energy security challenge is particularly great for India
because we are trying to develop in an environment in which our
domestic energy resources are limited and the world is transiting
to a period when energy is likely to be scarce and energy prices
are expected to be high.
As a first step, we must ensure effective utilisation of all
available domestic energy resources. Unfortunately, our attempt to
tap both old and new sources of energy is being threatened by a
range of problems. Be it coal or hydro power, oil or nuclear power
we find new challenges that have to be overcome to develop these
resources to the fullest extent possible. We must re-examine all
domestic constraints on such development to see how they can be
The domestic agenda for energy security is clear. We need new
investment in established sources of energy such as coal, oil,
gas, hydro electricity and nuclear power. We also need investment
in new sources of energy, like solar and wind. Parallel with
expanding domestic supplies, we need to promote energy efficiency
to contain the growth of energy associated with rapid growth.
Both goals of expanding new investment and achieving energy
efficiency require a more rational pricing policy, aligning
India's energy prices with global prices. This cannot be done
immediately, but we need to outline a phased programme for such
adjustment and then work to develop support for making the
transition. I realise that this will not be easy, but unless we
can achieve this transition we will not be able to promote energy
efficiency as much as we should, and we will certainly not be able
to attract enough investment to expand domestic energy supplies.
Energy security also has a global dimension. Even with the best
domestic effort our dependence on imported energy is expected to
increase. We need assured access to imported energy supplies and
also access to new energy related technologies. This means we need
sensible policies that can promote economic partnership with
countries that have energy resources and technologies. We also
need a pro active foreign policy, protecting our access to such
resources and to foreign technology.
A fourth important challenge we face in the years ahead is the
challenge of ecological security. Economic growth is essential for
the well being of our people, but we cannot allow growth to be
pursued in a manner which damages our environment. We owe it to
future generations to ensure that the environment they inherit
from us is at least as capable of providing economic security for
them as the one we inherited from our parents
We cannot allow the waters of our rivers to be polluted by
untreated effluent and sewage. Yet this is happening today because
of weak regulation and lack of enforcement over industry and the
cities. Similarly, we cannot allow air pollution to proceed
unabated promoting respiratory diseases which impose a heavy
burden on large numbers of our people especially the poor.
Ecological security also involves protection of our forests which
play a critical role not only in absorbing carbon emissions but
also in providing us with water security. Forests help reduce
water run off and siltation and increase water retention in the
ground, recharging our underground acquifers. Some forest land
often has to be surrendered to allow the exploitation of natural
resources including energy and mineral resources and hydro
electric potential. This must be done in a manner which minimises
the extent of surrender and also provides sufficient compensatory
afforestation to ensure ecological security to the nation.
All these problems can be solved and have been solved in other
countries. It requires stronger and more transparent regulation
and it also involves extra costs. These costs must be borne by
those who pollute and this principle must be well understood and
Looking beyond the immediate ecological issues, there is the
larger challenge of climate change. As responsible citizens of the
world we must pursue a pattern of development which reduces
greenhouse gas emissions per unit of our GDP by about 20-25% by
2020 as our contribution to global ecological security. This
objective is closely linked to the pursuit of rational energy
policies mentioned earlier.
Finally, and most importantly, our vibrant democracy faces threats
to internal and external security which together can be viewed as
the challenge of National Security.
Despite grave provocations from extremists and terrorists, the
people of India have remained united. They have not lost faith in
our plural, secular and inclusive democracy. Across the world
people look to India for inspiration. Our model of Inclusive
Growth in an Open Society inspires those who seek freedom from
A new wave of democracy demanding the empowerment of ordinary
people is sweeping the world and India stands tall as a
functioning democracy. We are a nation of over a billion people,
plural, secular, democratic - with all the great religions of the
world freely practiced here, with so many languages and cuisines,
so many castes and communities - living together in an open
society. This is an achievement for which every Indian can be
The world acknowledges this achievement. I do believe that the
world wants India to succeed because India offers hope.
Our democracy has its faults, but our people are aware of them and
have shown their ability to correct these faults.
Often democracy can be frustrating - both to those who are in
government and to those who expect it to be more efficient,
effective and humane. But our democracy is our strength. It is the
basis of our unity. It is also the most important guarantor of
Equally important for our national security is the modernisation
of our defence forces. Indeed, India's economic and energy
security also require this. Our Army, our Navy and our Air Force
require modernisation and upgradation of personnel and systems.
Ensuring this will remain my most important task as Prime
Dear Fellow Citizens,
Today I have shared my thoughts with you to make you understand
the nature of the challenges we face entering a New Year.
I have identified Five key challenges facing us. These will be on
top of our policy agenda this year - Livelihood Security
(education, food, health and employment), Economic Security,
Energy Security, Ecological Security and National Security.
In addressing each of these five challenges we must work together
as a nation, while working with like-minded nations around the
I assure you that I will work with all the energy at my command to
ensure that we meet each of these challenges and overcome them.
Let us stand united as a people in overcoming these challenges.
I wish you the best in the year and the years ahead."