India is celebrating the 62nd anniversary of its independence from
Great Britain. During the celebration Saturday Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh pledged to meet the main challenges before the country - wiping
out terrorism, and returning its economy to a high growth path.
Manmohan Singh said Saturday internal security is being strengthened to
prevent terrorist assaults in the country. He expressed confidence that
India will succeed in rooting out terrorism.
Mr. Singh was addressing the nation on Independence Day from the heavily guarded ramparts of the Red Fort in New Delhi.
has suffered numerous terror attacks in recent years, including deadly
strikes in its financial hub, Mumbai, last year. It blames these
attacks on Islamic militants based in Pakistan, and suspended a formal
peace process between the two countries following the Mumbai attacks.
Without mentioning Pakistan by name, Prime Minister Singh said India wants peace in the region.
He said India will strive to create an atmosphere that will promote economic and social development in all of South Asia.
Indian leader also pledged to crack down on Maoist insurgents who have
spread their influence in several eastern states, and mounted daring
attacks on security forces in recent years.
Mr. Singh outlined
the economy as the other challenge before the country. He said the
government will take whatever steps are necessary to return the country
to a high growth path. He expressed hope that the situation will
improve by the end of the year.
As the country confronts the
specter of a widespread drought due to deficit monsoon rains, the Prime
Minister promised steps to protect farmers and poor people.
He said the country has adequate stocks of food grains and will make efforts to keep a check on rising prices of food items.
Singh also underlined the need for India to join the world in taking
steps to protect the environment, and called on citizens to conserve
scarce resources such as water.
As Indians held celebrations to
mark Independence Day, separatist groups called for a strike in the
northern Kashmir region, and in the northeast where several militant
groups are fighting Indian rule.
Tens of thousands of soldiers
guarded Indian cities as intelligence agencies warned that Islamic
militants may mount attacks on the occasion of Independence Day