India president assures 'all will be well'

Kolkata (The Statesman/ANN) - With its image in tatters owing to scams and doubts over its stability in the wake of recent poll reverses, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government today sought to assure a despondent nation that all will be well, be it the state of its economy or security, both internal and external.

The pep talk came through India President Pratibha Patil's address to the gathering of close to 800 members from the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in a joint sitting in the Central Hall of Parliament, signalling the start of the budget session.

Taking a global view, the President said: "There is increased political uncertainty and turbulence in the international system and the environment in which we operate has become more challenging over the last one year.¿

Conscious of declining growth over the last couple of years, Patil said the economy will soon return to 8 to 9 per cent growth path on the back of 'strong fundamentals.' "My government is confident that it will soon steer the country back to the high growth trajectory of 8-9%,¿

Patil said in her last ceremonial address of her five year tenure ending on July 25.

About inflation which has remained a major bugbear for the government, Patil said the actions taken by the Reserve Bank and the government have yielded results and "general inflation has eased.¿ She said the government would work to achieve economic security through rapid and broad-based development and creation of productive jobs and ensure energy security for rapid growth.

About external relations, the President expressed the government's commitment to resolve all outstanding issues with Pakistan through dialogue but asked Islamabad to take credible action against terrorist groups and related infrastructure on its soil. She also backed the National Intelligence Grid and the National Counter Terrorism Centre which she said aimed to improve India's capability to counter internal security threats.

She said the government will work to guarantee internal and external security within the framework of a "just, plural, secular and inclusive¿ democracy. About the government's commitment to combat corruption, Patil noted that India has also ratified the UN Convention against Corruption. Conscious of political pressures the UPA had faced on corruption issues, the President assured the nation that the government was committed to "honest and more efficient¿ governance and said it had brought several bills for the purpose.

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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