2o May : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday sought to give a push to the economic reforms saying India could not afford to lag behind the rising economies of the East. "We cannot afford to miss the bus now," he said pointing out that many nations in Asia were marching ahead and the world was experiencing a shift in the dynamics of growth from the West to the East.
Addressing members of the Congress Parliamentary Party, he said India stood tall once again as a great democracy. "But the challenges before us are daunting," he said.
Noting that the massive mandate came with the challenge of rising expectations of the people, he said, "They will not tolerate ‘business as usual’.
"They expect us to work with renewed energy. They expect the government to cater to their aspirations. They expect a more responsive government. They expect a more efficient government."
The Prime Minister said to maintain a sustained growth, new investments were required. "This requires creating a social and political environment in which new investment can be made. This requires better management of our finances. This requires reform of the economy," he said.
Singh said the country need to revitalise agriculture and accelerate industrial development in order to sustain growth.
He said there was need to keep savings and investment rates high and become more globally competitive to face the economic challenges from across the world.
The Prime Minister said if the country sustain the growth rates of the last five years, it can reduce poverty, create new employment, accelerate rural development and industrialisation, transform the lives of the people.
"The period ahead could be decisive. We must grasp the nettle firmly and forge ahead," he said promising to do his best to make the government a "catalyst of change".
Singh also extended a hand of friendship to members of all political parties, cutting across political spectrum and invited them to play the role of a "constructive opposition".
He said the impressive mandate for UPA was made possible due to the "inspirational leadership" of Sonia Gandhi, "enterprise and ingenuity" of Rahul Gandhi and dedication and hard work of party workers.
The people have rubbished the "fashionable theory of anti-incumbency", Singh said, cautioning that party leaders and workers must work harder and better to secure a wholesome mandate entirely in the party’s favour.