Breaking his silence amidst the logjam in Parliament, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday promised action against those for any “wrong thing” done in the 2G spectrum allocation.
He also appealed to opposition parties to allow Parliament to function, saying the government is “not afraid” of discussing any issue.
“There should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that if any wrong thing has been done by anybody, he or she will be brought to book,” Dr. Singh said in his first comments on the 2G spectrum issue that has paralysed Parliament for the last two weeks.
Replying to questions after his speech at the HT Leadership Summit here, Dr. Singh said various aspects of the 2G spectrum allocation are being looked into by respective investigating agencies “in the domain of their interest.”
“But for all these to happen, in a democracy we have to allow Parliament to function... We are ready to discuss all issues. We are not afraid of discussions,” he said on the stalemate over the spectrum issue.
“I appeal to all political parties to let Parliament to do its work. We need Parliament to function more regularly to pass legislations, laws and Supplementary Demands for grants for various departments,” Dr. Singh said.
“It is my humble request to all political parties to allow Parliament to function. We can discuss everything,” the Prime Minister said.
While appealing to political parties, he said in a democracy, there was need for “reasoned debate” to raise “nationally-acceptable” approaches.
He refused to speak anything more on the spectrum issue, saying Parliament was in session.
"Feeling like an high-school student"
Earlier, in his speech, the Prime Minister talked about the need to deal effectively with the “threats of corruption and crony capitalism”, not only in India but all over the world.
Noting that it is “often said that these are testing times”, Dr. Singh said, “in fact, I cannot help feeling that we in India are always living through testing times. Indeed, as Prime Minister I sometimes feel like a high school student — going from one test to another.”
He said that “the good news is that though being constantly tested, we are winning... Our youngsters are optimistic and their optimism gives me hope. We must be doing at least some things right.”
Observing that people of India face diverse challenges, Dr. Singh said, “we live in an era of rising expectations. We live in an era of multiple contestations.“
"9 per cent growth next year"
Talking about the new wave of economic growth unleashed in the 1990s, he said reforms did not follow any external recipe.
“They were homegrown and calibrated to suit the Indian situation. Initially, many were skeptical of the changes being initiated. Looking back after two decades, one can see that we did manage to do reasonably well,” he said.
Referring to the global meltdown two years ago, Dr. Singh said India cannot say that it was not affected but it was among the few countries that recovered quickly from the crisis.
“We grew at 7.4 per cent last year and hope to achieve 8.5 per cent this year... We have to work hard to maintain and accelerate growth,” he said.
He expressed confidence that the country would return to sustained 9-10 per cent growth, “but it will not happen automatically.“
There will be need for massive investments in infrastructure, education and health, in employment-generating industralisation, in more productive and eco-friendly agricultural development, the Prime Minister said.
Referring to the proverbial hare and tortoise comparison, the Prime Minister said one can choose to describe India as a hare, tortoise or elephant or whatever. “The simple truth is that India is a nation of over a billion people eager to realise their destiny.”
Dr. Singh said there was “no magic formula” or “magic wand” but the government has a great deal to make this happen. And what it does must be innovative and must spur innovation.
"Need to address environmental threat"
The Prime Minister said the country also needs to address new challenges like threat to environment arising from inadequate regulation.
“We need new thinking to prevent the degradation of land and water resources which endanger the livelihood of millions of our people living on the edges of subsistence,” he said.
Dr. Singh said it is on the foundation of a better educated, more healthy and more skilled people that India must build its edifice of a more entrepreneurial society and leverage capacity for innovation.
“The greatest battles of our times are not ones in which humans will win over humans, or a nation over a nation. The greatest tests of our times are ones in which humanity as a whole will have to fight and win together — these will be our collective fight against hunger, poverty, terrorism, disease, tyranny, corruption, bigotry and extremism,” he said.