NEW DELHI, August 15, 2011 (AFP) – India’s embattled premier Monday used his Independence Day address from Delhi’s rain-drenched Red Fort to insist the government was taking “the strictest possible action” against corruption. Manmohan Singh, speaking from a bullet-proof enclosure in torrential monsoon rains, also said that inflation running at nearly 10 percent was a “problem”, but that solving it “will be our top-most priority in the coming months”.
The 78-year-old prime minister dwelt at length on the problem of graft, which has sapped his government in its second term and tarnished his own reputation as “Mr Clean”.
“Today the world recognises our potential to be one of the major economic powers globally. But the problem of corruption is a big obstacle in such a transformation,” Singh conceded.
While promising that “we are taking the strictest possible action in cases of corruption that have surfaced”, Singh also defended his record, saying that the country was enjoying political stability and fast economic growth. Despite the challenges posed by rising inflation, Singh also promised a new focus on providing free healthcare and pledged to make India slum-free via an infrastructure-building scheme.