New Delhi: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said media needs to remain vigilant and flag shortcomings of the government with a view to improve the effectiveness of governance.
Speaking at the TIOL Heritage Award function in New Delhi, Manmohan Singh asserted that India will continue to rise and show to the world the way forward by blending tradition with modernity.
He noted that an entirely new generation of Indians have emerged who are aspirational and are exerting pressure on the government to perform better and be transparent.
Manmohan Singh also recalled his tenures as the finance minister and the prime minister in steering the country at difficult times.
On the role of the media in a democracy, the former prime minister said it has a very important contribution to make in the process of nation-building.
“We expect the media to be vigilant, to point out the shortcomings of the government and thus help in improving the effectiveness of governance,” he said in his virtual address at the function.
He was conferred with the TIOL Fiscal Heritage Award.
According to Manmohan Singh, economic growth, social change and political empowerment have brought in their wake the new aspirations of an entirely new generation of Indians.
“This has contributed to growing impatience and a desire for faster growth and a better quality of life. These aspirations and ambitions are exerting pressures on governments to deliver more, perform better, and be more transparent and efficient,” he added.
Recalling his days as the finance minister, Manmohan Singh said that he entered the world of politics in the midst of a crisis. In 1991, India was confronted by challenges on the external front.
“Most of you will only recall the external payments crisis of 1990-91. But this payments crisis occurred against the backdrop of an even bigger challenge — the breakdown of the global bipolar order,” he said.
As the finance minister, Singh said he had to worry not only about reducing the fiscal deficit and reviving economic growth but also about stabilising the rupee and ensuring access to adequate foreign exchange.
“At that critical time, I had said that the emergence of India as an economic powerhouse was an idea whose time had come,” he said, adding that as the finance minister he defended the interest of the nation while remaining committed to the pursuit of equity and justice.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, he said, “we took momentous decisions with respect to our economic policies as well as our foreign policy. Prime Minister Narasimha Rao launched what has come to be known as India’s ‘Look East Policy,’ linking India to the new growth engines of Asia”.
He said India liberalised its trade and investment rules to help the country re-integrate with the global economy.
The policies of those years had far-reaching and enduring impact, he added.
As the prime minister in 2004, Manmohan Singh said, “I took on that responsibility with diligence as my tool, truth as my beacon, and a prayer that I might always do the right thing. As I have said on many occasions, my life and tenure in public office are an open book. Serving this nation has been my privilege. There is nothing more that I could ask for.”
The former prime minister also said that governments come and governments go, “but this great nation of ours is heir to one of the oldest civilizations known to humanity”.
Its history is marked by continuity and change, and a remarkable cultural plurality, he said, adding these are important strengths, he added.
Speaking at the event, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said during Singh’s tenure, 10 million people were lifted from poverty line.
India was catapulted as the second fastest economy in the world during his tenure, Tharoor said, adding that India had witnessed a growth rate of 7-9 per cent.