Gargi Parsai

“Our growing population and higher levels of living require augmentation of food supplies”

Calls for better coordination among Centre and States

States must tackle shortages and strengthen PDS

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday expressed concern at the rising prices of essential commodities and urged the State governments to use all instruments at their disposal to make available these items to the poor and others at reasonable rates.

Dr. Singh said for some time past, there was a “false sense of security” that the availability of food had ceased to be a concern, and “we” were able to control prices. “But our growing population and higher levels of living necessitates augmentation of food supplies.”

The Prime Minister was addressing the first annual conference of the State Chief Secretaries here,

He called for better administrative coordination among the Centre and the States for faster development and to tackle terrorism, insurgency and extremism, and problems affecting more than one State.

Dr. Singh pointed out that it would never be possible, in a globalised world, to insulate the country from the pulls and pressures of international demand and supply.

He asked the State governments to devise strategies to bolster food production, tackle shortages of essential items and strengthen the public distribution system.

“Our farm productivity still ranks below the best in the world. There is a great scope for improvement in the productivity of major crops, and I hope to see greater efforts in achieving this,” he said.

The economic reforms executed over the past 20 years enabled the country to become one of the fastest growing economies in the world. “Not only this, we also have the resilience to meet challenges, as our response to the recent global downturn shows. We also now live in a globalised environment where the Indian economy is increasingly getting integrated with the international economy, and Indian talent and enterprise is recognised the world over.”

Complex process

Even as there was “unprecedented optimism” in the country over its prospects for the future, governance had become an extremely complex process with the rising expectations of people and a clamour for accountability from all quarters: the legislature, the judiciary and the media.

“All this requires that our response to problems has to be much more creative and imaginative. It also requires that everyone in the administrative system is well informed, well trained and well equipped,” he said.

While emphasising that inclusive growth was the centre piece of the United Progressive Alliance government, he said: “India lives in the States, and unless the States move forward at a pace that is adequate to [meet] the challenges, we cannot claim that we have delivered inclusive growth.”

Peace and communal harmony was a pre-requisite for rapid economic growth. Terrorism, insurgency and extremism needed to be tackled with a firm, but effective and sensitive, hand.

As for the climate change, Dr. Singh said India launched an ambitious national action plan that encompassed eight national missions on which much of the action had to be taken by the States, as there would be a need for local adaptation.