New Delhi: Reeling under attacks amid a slew of graft charges, the Congress-led UPA on Sunday promised to take “legitimate steps” to curb corruption in public life.
“The record of UPA government is an open book,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Sunday releasing UPA`s annual report card on completion of two years titled `Government of the UPA: Report to the People`.
"In the past several months, a conjunction of several developments relating to 2G spectrum allocation, procurement and contracting issues related to the Commonwealth Games, and similar issues in state governments have brought public focus on the issue of corruption in public life", the PM said while admitting that these developments have caused many concerned citizens to worry about the state of governance and the "pervasiveness of corruption".
In the foreword to the report, the Prime Minister said many of these issues have surfaced because of "our system of institutional oversight and a free press" and to that extend reflect the strength of the system.
"The government has initiated a number of measures to bring about systemic changes that would help in improving governance and curbing corruption and we hope to see quick results of these efforts," he said.
The report card talks at length about the constitution of a Group of Ministers (GoM) on corruption in January this year and the introduction of the whistleblower bill among the measures initiated by the government to "tackle corruption".
It said that the terms of reference of the GoM include all legislative and administrative measures necessary to tackle corruption and improve transparency including relinquishing discretionary powers enjoyed by ministers at the Centre.
“The government has brought public focus on corruption in public life,” the PM said. The PM made it clear that the government is determined to take corrective action.
"The due processes of law are already in motion," Singh said. He made it clear that the guilty in scams will be punished through due process of law and steps will be taken to prevent corruption in future.
The Prime Minister said the government would leave no stone unturned in providing a clean and effective governance.
The Prime Minister said the Congress-led UPA government has given the country seven years of political stability, social progress and communal harmony.
Singh said his government has given an historic economic performance despite global economic slowdown.
Singh presented a bullish picture of the economy which he said grew at a record 8.5 per cent rate during the seven years of the UPA rule.
“The inclusive economic growth has indeed benefited the poor”, he said.
The Prime Minister, however said there is an immediate challenge to keep a check on inflation without affecting growth.
Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi presented the report in a function at the Prime Minister`s residence and attended by leaders of coalition partners and outside supporters like Samajwadi Party and RJD.
The 74-page report presented the achievements in various fields like economy, agriculture, rural development, education and healthcare.
DMK, sulking in the wake of poll debacle and the arrest of its MP Kanimozhi, made a token presence with the attendance of its Parliamentary Party chief TR Baalu.
On Indo-Pak ties
Prime Minister said relationship with Pakistan was improving but was cautioned that it was prone to accidents.
"Our relations with Pakistan are improving. Recently there have been Home Secretary-level talks and other talks. It is a hopeful beginning. But I can`t say, it is prone to accidents," he said.
India had put on hold the Composite Dialogue process in the wake of the 26/11 attacks, but resumed talks with Pakistan last year.
The UPA report card said that India remains committed to a bilateral dialogue with Pakistan in an environment free of terrorism and violence and on the basis of Pakistan`s solemn commitment that it will not allow territory under its control to be used for fomenting terrorism against India.
"We have demonstrated that wherever required, we will go beyond traditional norms of reciprocity and extend asymmetrical benefits in the interest of providing a strong impetus to bilateral and regional linkages," it said.
On Naxal menace
Admitting there is a development deficit in areas affected by Left-wing extremism, PM said his government is determined to address the deficit, while maintaining that the menace remains a "major problem."
In his foreword to the report, Singh said the UPA Government has always adopted a nuanced approach in dealing with Left-wing extremism.
"We will deal firmly with extremism but we also recognise that there is a development deficit in the areas affected by left-wing extremism and we are determined to address this deficit," Singh said.
He said the government launched an Integrated Action Plan for accelerated development of 60 selected Tribal and Backward districts in 2010-11 which will be continued in 2011-12 also.
On external security
On external security, Singh said the government continued its focus on modernisation of armed forces and indigenous production of advanced weapon systems.
"During 2010-11, the indigenously developed light combat aircraft, Tejas, was cleared for operations by the Air Force and the first indigenously designed and built stealth frigate -- INS Shivalik was commissioned," Singh said.
He said two regiments of the indigenous main battle tank, Arjun, were operationalised by the Army.
On Nuclear energy
In the report, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also underlined the commitment to ensure highest levels of safety at nuclear installations and rolled out plans to strengthen the nuclear regulator by imparting it greater autonomy.
"We are committed to the highest levels of safety in the nuclear programme, and have initiated the process of strengthening the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and making it an autonomous and independent regulatory authority," he said.
With PTI inputs