Quotable quotes from the prime minister

March 5th, 2008 - 8:43 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 5 (IANS) Following are some salient points from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s much-applauded address in the Lok Sabha Wednesday: On loan waiver scheme

“Why our government took the historic initiative to waive farmers’ loans on an unprecedented scale. The debt relief of this magnitude (Rs.60,000 crores or Rs.600 billion) has never been conceived or attempted before. It is an income transfer on an unparalleled scale. If bankruptcy is a permissible form of business outcome in industry, what is irrational about this waiver? It will allow a fresh flow of institutional credit to farmers. It will clean up banker’s balance sheets; it will stimulate the economic activities all over India and I do not make any apology.

“The debt relief will be a simple exercise, which we will complete by June. It will not be a long drawn out affair. I agree that there will be farmers outside the pale of institutional credit, who do not benefit from this waiver. For them, we have started since 2004, a programme of financial inclusion so that each and every farmer has a bank account and is able to access institutional credit.”


On sops to minorities

“Leader of the opposition talked about this as the appeasement of minorities. I do not plead guilty to that charge. It is a process of empowerment of all disadvantaged sections of our population. I take pride in saying that our government has the courage to recognise that our minorities have not benefited appropriately from the processes of growth, and therefore the time has come to pay a little more attention to their needs of education, of health.”


On Indian farmers

“Our government is convinced that India cannot prosper if our farmers do not prosper. I recall from my childhood the words of Oliver Goldsmith:

‘Ill fares the land, to hastening ill a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay;
Princes and Lords may flourish, or may fade;
A breath can make them, as a breath has made;
But a bold peasantry, their country’s pride,
When once destroyed can never be supplied.’”

On price stabilisation

“We are committed to reasonable price stability, but we will not be a party to maintain so-called price stability by neglecting the prices that are to be payable to our farmers. Our commitment to reasonable price stability should be obvious from what I am going to say. The prices of petroleum products have more than tripled in the last four years, but we have not increased the price of kerosene. We have made only a marginal addition to prices of diesel and prices of petrol. We have not changed in these four years the prices payable by our farmers for their fertilizers.”


On women’s reservation bill

“It is a matter of deep regret to me that we have not been able to move forward on this front. Our government’s commitment is to the reservation of seats in state legislatures and parliament. There should be no doubt about that. We have not succeeded and I admit that this is a commitment in our common minimum programme. Now that the Leader of the Opposition also spoke; now that our CPI-M colleagues also spoke, I will make once again another attempt to evolve a broad-based consensus so that we can move forward on this also.”


On foreign policy

“Our foreign policy has sought to promote an environment of peace and stability in our region. The challenge before us is to create an external environment that is conducive to our long-term and sustained economic development. We want mutually beneficial relations with all our neighbours, with all major powers and with all our economic partners. It is with this perspective that we have engaged the world and sought partnerships across the world.”


On civil nuclear deal

“I should say a few words about the Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation with the USA and other countries. We continue to make efforts to make this possible in a manner in which we can maximise the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. We are presently engaged in negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency for an India-specific safeguards agreement. We also continue to seek the broadest possible consensus within the country to enable the next step to be taken. I believe that such cooperation is good for us for our energy security and for the world.”

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