"For relations with Pakistan to improve, it is essential that they prevent the use of their territory and territory under their control for any anti-India activity," Singh said while addressing the nation on the 67th Independence Day from the Red Fort here.
Referring to the killing of five Indian soldiers in an ambush by Pakistani troopers along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir on Aug 6, Singh said: "Recently, there was a dastardly attack on our Jawans on the Line of Control with Pakistan. We will take all possible steps to prevent such incidents in the future."
He said terrorist and naxal violence have reduced in the country.
"There has been improvement in the area of national security also. Despite some worrisome communal incidents in 2012 and this year, the last 9 years have been good for communal harmony. There has been a reduction in terrorist and Naxal violence also," Singh said.
"However, the area of national security calls for constant vigil. We have not been successful in preventing Naxal attacks that happen from time to time. The Naxal violence in Chhatisgarh on 25 May was a frontal attack on our democracy," he added.
Pertinently, this was Singh's last Independence Day's speech before the Lok Sabha polls next year.
In his speech, Singh highlighted United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's achievements in the last ten years.
"The first UPA government came to power in May 2004. Ever since, we have worked with sincerity and honesty to build a progressive and modern India.We have envisioned a prosperous India. An India which has got rid of centuries old burden of poverty, hunger and disease," the PM said.
"Where the light of education has driven away the darkness of ignorance and superstition.Where there is social equality and all citizens enjoy equal economic opportunity. Where no section of the society faces injustice and exploitation," Singh said.
He said the UPA government dreamt of an India where the youth get employment opportunities that enabled them to contribute to 'the noble endeavour of nation building'.
Singh said: "We have strived for India's voice to be heard loud and clear at the international level. We have strived to build a nation that is looked at with respect and honour by the whole world. We have taken many measures to realise these dreams. But the journey is long and a large distance still remains to be travelled."
Speaking on the issue of Food Security Bill, the PM said: "We have recently issued an Ordinance towards a Food Security law. The Food Security Bill is now before Parliament and we hope it will be passed shortly. This law will benefit 75 percent of our rural population and half of our urban population."
Singh said: "Under the law, about 81 crore Indians would be entitled to receive rice at 3 Rupees per kg, wheat at 2 Rupees per kg and coarse grains at 1 Rupee per kg. This is the largest effort of its kind in the whole world."
"We have been able to implement this law only because of the hard work of our farmers. Our food-grain production reached a record level of 25.9 crore ton in 2011-12," he said.
Singh said the average annual rate of agricultural growth in the 11th Plan was 3.6, which is more than both the 9th and 10th Plan levels.
He said in the country's rural per-capita consumption has increased four times faster than earlier in between 2004 to 2011.
"Many States which had been considered backward for a long time, with some of them being called Bimaru, are now progressing rapidly," Singh said.
"We have enacted the Right to Education Act to provide every child in the country the opportunity for education. Almost all our children are today being imparted education in Primary schools. The number of young men and women going to college has more than doubled in the last 9 years," the PM said.
He more steps should be taken to reform India's education system.
"Much still remains to be done for reforming our education system. Many of our schools still lack drinking water facilities, toilets and other necessary infrastructure. There is a need to improve the quality of education. To achieve this, it is necessary to lay more emphasis on training of teachers," the PM said in his speech.
Speaking on the issue of Mid-day Meal Scheme, Singh said: "About 11 crore children are being provided afternoon meals every day in schools under the Mid-day Meal Scheme. This programme is of immense benefit for both education and nutrition of children. However, it is necessary to improve its implementation. The tragedy that happened in Bihar some days back should not be repeated anywhere in the country.
He said his government has strengthened the law connected with offences against women.
"For ensuring better safety and security for women, we have strengthened the law dealing with offences against women," Singh said.
Speaking on India's growth rate, the PM said: "In the recent months, there has been much discussion on the fact that last year our growth rate came down to 5 percent. This is indeed true and we are trying our best to remedy the situation."
"However, it is not only our country that is facing economic difficulties. The last year has been difficult for the world economy as a whole. Major European nations are experiencing a slowdown these days. All over the world, there has been a slump in export markets. All developing countries have slowed down," Singh said.
"I believe that this phase of slow growth in India will not last long. In the last 9 years, our economy has grown at an annual average rate of 7.9 percent. This pace of development is the highest in any decade so far," he said.
Singh said several important measures have been taken to make the work of the government responsive, transparent and honest.
"Through the RTI Act, the common man now gets more information than ever before about the work of the government. This legislation is being used on a large scale at all levels. The Act frequently brings to light irregularities and corruption and opens the door for improvements. I am sure that the RTI will lead to further improvements in the way the government functions," he said.
"We have introduced the Lokpal Bill in Parliament. The Lok Sabha has passed the Bill and it is now before the Rajya Sabha. This legislation will be a major step towards making our political system clean," Singh said.
Earlier, Singh started his speech by paying homage to the flood victims in Uttarakhand.
"Today is certainly a day of joy for us. But on this celebration of independence we also feel pain in our hearts that our brothers and sisters in Uttarakhand had to face devastation about two months back. Our deepest sympathies are with all the families that suffered loss of life or property. I want to assure the people of Uttarakhand today that the whole country stands with them in this moment of crisis," Singh said.
"Our government is working with all the resources at its command to rehabilitate those whose houses have been destroyed and rebuild damaged infrastructure," he said.
Lauding the efforts of armed forces in carrying out rescue operations in the flood-hit north Indian state, Singh said: "Our army, paramilitary forces and numerous officers and staff of the Central and State governments worked in difficult conditions in partnership with the common people to perform an outstanding task in providing relief to those who were stranded. We especially pay homage to the officers and men of the Air Force, ITBP and NDRF who sacrificed their lives to save others."
The PM said the country is deeply pained over the loss of INS Sindurakshak in an accident on Wednesday.
In a major setback to the Navy's ambitious modernization drive, the fully armed INS Sindhurakshak, returned by Russia earlier this year after a major refit at an estimated cost of USD 80 million exploded in a Mumbai dock.
Hopes of the 18 crewmen on board INS Sindhurakshak being rescued seemed to fade as the diesel-powered Indian Navy submarine sank after an explosion on Wednesday.
--IBNS (Posted on 15-08-2013)