Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised the nation on Tuesday that his government would not flinch from frontally battling Maoist violence, communalism and terrorism.
He was releasing the United Progressive Alliance's annual report card, marking the end of its first year in its second tenure.
Dr. Singh's opening remarks set the tone for the release of the 107-page Report to the People 2009-10, which kept the message of social inclusion in sharp focus, as it stressed the UPA's progress to a rights-based governance, while sending out the assurance that the economy would grow at 8.5% this year.
"In dealing with Naxalism, we will pursue a policy that genuinely seeks to address developmental concerns at the grassroots, while firmly enforcing the writ of the state," Dr. Singh told an audience consisting of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, senior party functionaries and members of the Union Council of Ministers at his 7, Race Course residence.
He said: "We will fight against the scourge of communalism and political extremism. We will fight terrorism root and branch. We will ensure that this great, liberal and plural nation of ours is not weakened by hatred and bigotry."
If the structure of the report is any indication, the UPA clearly puts education, health and child rights at the top of its list of priorities, with the first chapter entitled "Enabling Human Development," dealing with these subjects.
Official sources told The Hindu that Dr. Singh, whose early years were spent in a village, is very conscious of the transformative role that education played in his own life. It is for this reason that this government, much more than its predecessors, has made a huge outlay for scholarships for the SCs, the STs, the OBCs and the minorities.
Topping the priorities in the section on "Social Inclusion" are the proposed Food Security Act and empowerment of women, through reservation of seats in legislatures and local bodies as well as through "inter-sectoral convergence of all pro-women/women-centric programmes cutting across minis tries/departments, states and Panchayati Raj Institutions."