Kochi: With the national outcry on various burning issues apparently weighing on his mind, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday acknowledged a "surge of expectation" from an increasingly articulate public, asserting government was determined to improve legal and regulatory frameworks.
"There is now a surge of expectation from an increasingly empowered and articulate public, for more responsive, transparent, participative, clean and efficient governance," Singh told the Indian diaspora after inaugurating the 11th edition of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here.
The government was "determined to turn any setback into an opportunity to improve legal and regulatory frameworks," Singh said in his remarks which come in the backdrop of national mood of anger on issues such as corruption and crime against women in the light of the Delhi gang-rape incident.
"I have no doubt that the energy and the passions of our citizens, particularly our youth, will be a force of positive change in our country," he told the gathering where the Mauritius President Rajkeshwur Purryag was the chief guest.
He also said despite an impressive economic performance and quantum change in the past two decades, the country faced persisting challenges of poverty, equity, sustainability and opportunity.
"Vulnerable sections of society, including our women, face enduring prejudices and continuing problems in a rapidly changing India," he told the annual meet which seeks to connect India to its vast Indian diaspora and bring their knowledge, expertise and skills on a common platform.
On the economic front, Singh said the annual growth rate might fall below six per cent in the current year from 6.5 in the previous fiscal, but added the strong economic fundamentals backed by sound policies would enable the country to return to a higher growth path.
Singh noted that safety and security of overseas Indian communities was uppermost in "our minds" in the backdrop of turbulence in many parts of the world.
Though the primary responsibility of safety and security of overseas Indian communities rest with the host nations, "when needed, as was the case, last year in Libya, our government will provide prompt and necessary assistance", the Prime Minister said.
The government will do "all that is possible" to deepen the connection of overseas Indians with India and advance their interests, he said and invited them to be a vital partner in India`s social and economic development.
About the recently approved 12th Five Year Plan which targets eight per cent annual growth, Singh said this required enormous resources, reforms in policies and institutions and new models of public-private partnerships, among others.
"New approaches will be needed to address challenges like infrastructure, education, energy, water and agriculture."
Describing India as a close friend of his country, the Mauritius President assured his country`s support to New Delhi in its attempt for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.
Purryag, who has ancestral roots in India, said people of Indian origin take pride in India. "We have the same root, we share the same culture and tradition and we have same ancestors," he said.
Union Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said the hard work and honesty of NRIs has made India the most reliable suppliers of manpower in the world.