I give you my word that my government shall not compromise with corruption, in any kind of circumstances and I call upon you to help me in this task. There was a time when taking bribe would lead to social boycott. It was a matter of great insult if anybody aligned his name with a bribe-taker. All of us should work unitedly to create an atmosphere in the society, which would emphasise that we do not vote for the corrupt, we do not keep any kind of relationship with any criminal and we do not give any respect to such persons in society.
The struggle for the country's independence achieved success when the youth joined it. There was enthusiasm in that commitment and the same commitment and will to sacrifice led the nation to the freedom. Today onceagain, I call upon you to join this new struggle against corruption. There are some aspects of corruption which relate to the government policies. My government has taken a decision that whenever there is a big government purchase, whether it is of defence or some other department, its procedure should be very transparent so that people do not have any doubt about it. You must have noticed that a few days back, our Defence Minister had announced the formation of a committee which will approve the purchases of arms and fighter planes and other defence equipment. The members of this committee are people of the highest integrity and the country have full faith in them. Such committees should be formed in all Ministries and departments who make large purchases. This committee should work in an open way so that people can see that there are no kickbacks involved. There should be nothing in it which even the slightest measure smells of corruption.
A few days back, all the Chief Ministers from all over the country had come to Delhi on my invitation. They had all unitedly had decided that we will give Right to Information to our people through a new law. Under this Right, every citizen will have the right to seek information on any of the contract or purchases. None of the contracts or purchases would be concealed behind the veil of the Official Secrecy Act. This Right to Information law is already under formulation and would be presented in the next session of Parliament. I have also advised the Chief Ministers to form special courts to expeditiously deal with corruption cases. Some states have already done it but others have not. This is a very important task and I have also prayed to the Supreme Court to help us in punishing the the corrupt.
My government has formed a National Commission which would recommend abolition of outdated laws which are not required now and will suggest reforms in the present laws to ensure early settlement of cases in courts. The Civil Code and the Penal Code should be changed so that cases do not remain in the court files for long years.
The Lok Pal Bill will be presented in the next session of Parliament and this will act as another watch tower on official deals. I have noticed that there are several cases before the CBI which have not yet been opened and enquiries are continuing. I have told the officers that such cases should be resolved expeditiously.
Another thing which I want to tell you, is that if any of you have a proof against any Minister in my Cabinet, you please come forward and give it to me. I give you my word that I would order a thorough enquiry into the complaint without caring for the status of the person concerned and action would be taken against him under the law. We will not let such persons in remain politics.
My countrymen, the Indian community today is emerging as a big economic giant before the world, after the hard work of fifty long years. Earlier, even the needle for sewing clothes used to be imported. I recall that before partition, there was a very rich businessman in Karachi who made a big fortune by importing needles. Today, when we take a look at our industries and factories, we raise our head with pride on our achievements in these 50 years.
We attained political freedom 50 years ago and today, we have to march forward towards economic freedom. Our schemes including the 9th Five Year Plan which will come before you in a few days' time will lead the country towards the goal of economic independence. The 50 years hard work of our countrymen has borne fruit. Today the world considers India as a very big market, a market not for only purchasing goods but market because of our industries. Our labourers and our farmers are taking the country on the path of economic progress by their hard work. Today no country in the world can reamin isolated. The United Front government has formulated a Common Minimum Programme. This programme is multifaceted and our effort is to touch upon those sectors of the economy where some kind of stalemate has crept in. You are all aware and you remember that in the last fifty years this country has strived to set up a large number of Public Sector Units. Some companies are facing problems and we are trying to resolve those. Ever since I have taken over I have paid special attention to Public Sector and where there was talk of closing down ten big companies they have been revived. My policy is that as far as possible, Public Sector Companies should be infused with fresh life so that the country increases its wealth and the people's prosperity.
Today, whether it is Delhi or outside, within the country or city we understand that new roads need to be built. Industries have to increase for which the infrastructure issues like Power, Post & Telegraph and Telecommunications have to be addressed. Unless we do so our economy may not be able to progress. That is why the United Front Government is focussing and stressing on these issues. I am proud to state that our economy grew at a rate of nearly 7% last year.
This has happened for the first time in our history that as we attain new objectives and now we aim even higher. We strive and aspire that together, with the efforts of labourers and farmers our growth rate should move towards 10%. Ours is primarily an agricultural economy. The real strength of the country is the farmer, his effort and production. In the last 50 years our food-grain production has increased 4 times. Import of food-grains for the people is the thing of the past. Our population has increased tremendously but I am grateful to the farmer for making us self-sufficient in food-grains. You will be happy to know that with the efforts of our farmers, our food-grain production was 20 crore tonnes, last year. This includes both rice and wheat. Our country has experienced both green and white revolutions. Due to the white revolution, India today is the world's biggest producer of milk. Our focus today is to improve agriculture production. That is why the areas that receive scanty rain fall need special attention. In areas where agriculture is totally dependent on rain fall - dryland farming, the stress is on improving agricultural production by using science and technology. We have to do a lot for the hard working farmers, so we have decided to give special emphasis on the welfare of agricultural labour especially landless labourers. Since he is backward and in extreme poverty there is need for his insurance so that in case of his unfortunate demise, his family members do not lack food. In the field of agricultural reforms there are some more issues which are under consideration and we will try to introduce a Bill in the next session of Parliament.
The slogan of "Garibi Hatao" was given a long time back. The policy of my Government is how to translate it into reality. Today I have said that in our agricultural economy around 60 to 65% people are dependent on agriculture. It is with extreme sadness that I say that the land reforms have not been implemented honestly. Our country cannot progress unless the people who actually work on fields get the land and until the landless farmer is able. Therefore, I exhort you, especially those states where land reforms have not been implemented to lay stress on this and to formulate such a programme that within the next one or two years will translate this into reality. Poverty and ilieteracy are two sides of the same coin and they should be eradicated. The welfare of the labourer and poor classes should not be promoted not only with agriculture but by setting up of cottage and small scale industry. Unemployment especially of the educated unemployed needs to be addressed. It has only one solution and that is economic progress and advance. I assure you that our next plan would lay stress on this. Eradication of illiteracy is another essential ingredient for the development of the country. The nation cannot progress as long as its people are illiterate. somebody has once said which I would like to repeat that "Tell me one country where people are literate and is backward; and tell me one country where people are illeterate and the country has moved forward".