Asserting that the government's response will be 'hard' if violence continued in Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday made it clear that 'half-hearted' efforts by Pakistan to check terrorist activities will not suffice and it has to 'totally dismantle' the terror infrastructure.
At the same time, he expressed the government's readiness to talk to 'everyone' to resolve the problems confronting Jammu and Kashmir.
In his second Independence Day address to the nation, he said: "There is no issue that cannot be resolved through a process of discussion and dialogue. Our doors are always open and will continue to be open for anyone interested in dialogue.
"I invite everyone to join us to discuss the problems of the state of Jammu and Kashmir so that its people can lead a life of peace and dignity," he stressed.
The prime minister warned that as long as terrorists continued their attacks, the armed forces would be alert and give them a fitting response.
"If violence continues, then our response will be hard," Singh said from behind a bullet-proof glass shield from the ramparts of the heavily guarded Red Fort in New Delhi.
Observing that Pakistan had put some checks on the activities of terrorists from its soil, he, however, said "it is not not possible to achieve success through half-hearted efforts."
He said the National Rural employment Guarantee Bill would now be tabled in Parliament.
Recalling that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had given the call to banish poverty with her 'garibi hatao' slogan, he said "today, we commit ourselves to eradicating poverty by creating jobs, Rozgar badhao".
On the economic front, he said the country was witnessing an 'unprecedented' economic growth. He expressed confidence that the economic growth rate this year would be 7 per cent, the same as last year.
"I am confident that if we maintain this momentum of growth for the next 5 to 10 years, then it would be possible for us to eradicate poverty, ignorance, hunger and disease from our country. This is no longer a dream but is now a possibility," he said.
Unveiling a series of initiatives for rural India, Dr Singh said 'Krishi Vigyan Kendras' will be created in every village by 2007 and National Rainfed Area Authority will be set up.
On funding for 'Bharat Nirman' programmes, which will include irrigation of one crore hectares of unirrigated land, he said budgetary focus will be on outcomes and not outlays alone. "I am confident that Bharat Nirman will ensure the rapid economic development of our rural areas".
The prime minister appealed to all political parties to address water issues from a national and holistic perpective and reiterated commitment to preserve environment and wildlife.
He also stressed the need for revamping of Khadi and Village Industries Commission to create jobs.
Outlining a number of social welfare initiatives, the prime minister said pension for freedom fighters was being enhanced.
He announced a Prime Minister's Scholarship Scheme for children of ex-servicemen and security personnel under which 5,000 children would benefit for their college education every
Focussing on education at all levels, he spoke of a new wave of development for old universities in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.
Dr Singh announced a new 15-point programme for welfare and empowerment of minorities as well as empowerment of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes through investment in education, assurance of employment and tribal rights.
On the issue of infrastructure development, the prime minister spoke of development of the six-laning of Golden Quadrilateral and the high speed rail freight corridor connecting Mumbai-Delhi-Kolkata with Japanese aid.
He announced establishment of an Urban Renewal Fund with special focus on revitalisation of Mumbai and development of non-metro urban centres.
Dr Singh also announced his government's intention to build world class airports and giving a new thrust to civil nuclear energy development.
Outlining a spate of governance issues, he said a national campaign for cleanliness of villages, towns and cities would be launched and a national movement started against wastage of water.
Also read: President's address to the Nation
He said the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which is in operation in Manipur and some other North-Eastern states, would be made more humane to ensure protection to human rights.
Reaffirming his government's commitment to fight terrorism, Dr Singh said Pakistan must dismantle the entire infrastructure of terrorism while noting that the success of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus link showed the way forward in Jammu and Kashmir.
He observed that there was a need for holistic response to extremism while maintaining that development and security were interlinked.
Assuring a life of dignity and self-respect for all people, he said India firmly believed in making south Asia a region of peace and prosperity.
"Well-being and welfare of neighbours is in India's interest," Dr Singh said, greeting people of Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Mynamar, Bhutan, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Mauritius and Nepal.
He also mentioned his successful meetings last year with leaders of the US, Russia, European Union, Japan, China and several other friendly countries to improve bilateral
On arrival at the Red Fort, the prime minister was received by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and later accorded a guard of honour by personnel of the three services.
Earlier, he visited the Raj Ghat, Veer Bhumi, Shakti Sthal, Shanti Van and Vijay Ghat and paid floral tributes at the samadhis of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.
Among those who were present at the function were United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former prime ministers V P Singh, I K Gujral and H D Deve Gowda, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, several cabinet ministers and Lt. Governor of Delhi B L Joshi.
Dr Singh said the government would ensure that outlays of expenditure were visible to citizens as outcomes of progress.
"There comes a time in the history of a nation when it can be said that the time has come to make history. We are today at the threshold of such an era. The world wants us to do well and take rightful place on the world stage. There are no external constraints on our development. If there are any hurdles, they are internal," he said.
Emphasising the need to seize this moment, he said "we need to have the resolve to make our country prosperous. We must have the self confidence to realise that we are second to
none, that Indians are as good as the best."
Asking the political system and leadership to show sagacity, wisdom and foresight, he said this would help make India a truly great nation.
"Let us come together, as one nation, strengthened by our plurality, to work shoulder to shoulder and build a new India. An India where there are no barriers between the government and the people. An India where each and every Indian can stand proudly and proclaim that he is an Indian. Let us work together to build such a nation".