Addressing India's citizens on the occasion of the nation's 67th Independence Day and delivering his 10th Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the historic 17th-century built Red Fort; Dr. Singh said during his nearly 40-minute-long address, that the Food Security Bill was now before Parliament and he hoped it would be passed shortly.
"This law will benefit 75 percent of our rural population and half of our urban population. Under the law, about 81 crore Indians would be entitled to receive rice at three rupees per kg, wheat at two Rupees per kg and coarse grains at one rupee per kg. This is the largest effort of its kind in the whole world," he said.
"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 tonnes in 2011-12. Without rapid agricultural growth, we cannot achieve our goal of making our villages prosperous," he added.
He further said that it is his government's constant endeavour to increase production and to ensure that farmers get remunerative prices for their produce.
"In the last nine years, support prices for various crops have been enhanced as never before. The support prices for wheat and paddy have been more than doubled. Many states which faced shortages of food-grains earlier are now producing more than what they require for themselves. 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," Dr. Singh said.
He said that the UPA Government now sees clear indications of enhanced economic prosperity in the country's rural areas.
"In the period 2004 to 2011, rural per-capita consumption has increased four times faster than earlier. Rural wages have also increased much faster in this period. MNREGA provides employment to crores of people in rural areas," the Prime Minister said.
He further went on to admit that measuring poverty is a difficult task.
"There are diverse views about what constitutes poverty. But whatever definition we may adopt, it cannot be denied that the pace of reduction in poverty has increased after 2004," he said, adding, "Many states which had been considered backward for a long time, with some of them being called Bimaru, and now they are progressing rapidly."
--ANI (Posted on 15-08-2013)