Manmohan Singh: The world is watching India. We can feel proud of our standing

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Our country is witnessing unprecedented economic growth. Last year, our economic growth rate was 7 per cent and it is likely to be similar this year as well. Our country has never witnessed such consistently high growth rates in the past. I am confident that if we maintain this momentum of growth for the next five to 10 years, then it would be possible for us to eradicate poverty, ignorance, hunger and disease from our country.

This is not a dream but something that is possible in our times. It is not only us but the entire world which is viewing India as an emerging power. The whole world is eagerly watching the manner in which India is making rapid economic progress. And this economic growth is happening within the framework of a liberal democracy.

Our country is a multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-ethnic nation. Nowhere in the world do we have an example of a country of a billion people seeking their economic and social destiny within the framework of a democracy.

It is because of this that the entire world's attention is riveted on us. It is the result of our combined hard work that India today has made its mark on the world stage and we feel proud of our standing in the comity of nations.

Brothers and sisters, it is my belief that India's future is extremely bright and that this future is, indeed, possible. In order to achieve this, we need to focus on achieving rapid economic growth and on ensuring social justice. It is only by walking on these two legs will we be able to ensure that the benefits of growth reach all sections of society.

Last year, while addressing the nation on this day, I had mentioned that our growth is critically dependent on seven sectors which I called the "Saat Sutras". These seven sectors were agriculture, irrigation, education, health, employment, urban renewal and infrastructure.

Today, we can review the progress made in these seven areas. Our maximum emphasis has been on agriculture. Farmers are the backbone of our country and of our economy. It is the result of their tireless efforts that we do not have any shortage of foodgrains in our country. The entire country is grateful to them for this.

Taken from the Indian prime minister's Independence Day speech at the weekend

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