New Delhi: Pledging to take corruption head on, the Congress-led UPA government on Sunday promised to punish the guilty, demonstrating it through actions and not through words what it meant. Presenting the UPA's report card on completion of two yearsof  its second term, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi gave an assurance that the government would prevent scams in future and reduce discretionary and arbitrary use of power by public officials.

In her brief remark on  "Government of the UPA: Report to the People 2010-11", Gandhi said, "We will take the issue of corruption head on and demonstrate it through actions and not words, that we mean what we say."

Singh and Gandhi presented the report at a function at the Prime Minister's residence which was attended by leaders of coalition partners and outside supporters like Samajwadi Party
and RJD.

DMK,sulking in the wake of poll debacle and the arrest of its MP Kanimozhi, made a token presence with the attendance of its Parliamentary Party chief T R Baalu. However ,none of its six ministers was present.

Need for political stability

With the image of his government dented by scams, Singh said, "there is a challenge of good governance and a need of political stability.

"In the past several months, a conjunction of several developments relating to 2G spectrum allocation, procurement and contracting issues related to the Commonwealth Games and
similar issues in state governments have led to public focus on the corruption in public life."

Speaking on the occasion, Gandhi said much has been said about corruption.

"Transparency, accountability and probity are at the very root of our governance in our actions and what we demonstrate ," the UPA Chairperson said.

The 74-page report presented the achievements in various fields like economy, agriculture, rural development, education and healthcare.

PM for effective governance

Significantly, the Prime Minister touched upon the issues of governance and corruption which he said, has been the focus of great deal of attention in 2010-11.

The report card talks at length about the constitution of GoM on corruption in January this year and the introduction of the whistleblower bill among the measures adopted by the
government to "tackle corruption".

The Prime Minister said the government would leave no stone unturned in providing a clean and effective governance.In their speech, both Singh and Gandhi talked about the
results of the recent Assembly elections in five states.

"The messages of the results, of course, are specific to each state. But there is a common thread. People want good and reward good at the same time with  effective and accountable governance. This will continue to be our focus," she said.

Positive on economic front

Delving on economic situation of the country in the past seven years, he said it has grown at an "unprecedented rate" of 8.5 per cent.

"This historic performance has been in the face of a grave financial crisis and slowdown in the world economy which has been achieved overcoming the problem of high energy and
rising food prices," he said.

"If all us continue to work hard with dedication, commitment and honesty, I am sure India will soon emerge as the fastest growing economy in the world," he said, while
noting that India already is the world's fastest growing democracy.

Singh said his government had pursued a strategy of seeking "inclusive growth" at home and "inclusive globalization" internationally that benefits the have-nots and reduces disparities.

Right to food to be proposed

He also referred to some major legislations like the Right to Employment, Right to Education and the Right to Information. The government now proposes to introduce a legislation giving our citizens the Right to Food.

"Our policies have aimed to empower, socially, educationally and economically, the weaker sections of our society – Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, other backward classes, minorities and women," Singh said.

"We have a long way to go in banishing poverty and providing gainful employment to all. But I would urge you to look at the impressive distance we have walked in these past
seven years," he said.

Sustaining growth process a challenge

The Prime Minister said his government's most immediate challenge was to sustain the growth process, while keeping inflation in check.

There are four dimensions to sustainable economic growth: fiscal, social, ecological and political, he said.

Listing the fiscal challenge as immediate, Singh said, "In response to the global economic slowdown we undertook a massive fiscal stimulus programme that helped maintain
reasonable growth.

This challenge, Singh said, has been made all the more daunting by the rise in fuel prices all over the world .

"As an importer of oil, we have to adopt rational pricing policies. This is not just prudent fiscal management. This is a national security imperative. India cannot become too dependent on external sources of energy," he said.

Singh said the challenge of social sustainability of growth is a universal challenge today and rapid growth and urbanization have contributed to increased inequalities and inequities.

Terror threat looms large

Singh also talked about terrorism, saying its threat looms large and "we must all stand united" in combined fight against the forces of terrorism, extremism and instability.

"Our government will remain ever vigilant in the fight against terrorism and extremism... We must not minimize the challenges we face. At the same time, we must not be overwhelmed by them.

"I am confident that the people of India will stand together  in fighting against divisive forces," he said.

Determined to fulfill aspirations

Gandhi said as the UPA-II cross yet another milestone, it was conscious of the people's expectations and was determined to fulfill their aspirations.

Referring to the recent assembly elections where UPA-II has been successful in three out of five States, she said, "The messages from the results, of course, are specific to each state but there is a common thread: people always want and reward good, effective, accountable governance. This will continue to be our focus."

She said the endeavour of the UPA-II has been to build upon the programmes introduced in UPA-I and "make our policies and programmes more effectiveand reaching out to more and more  people."

Growth is core principle

Many new initiatives have also been launched over the past two years, she said, adding that the UPA's core principles – inclusive growth, empowerment of weaker sections of society and  women, co-operative federalism, accountable governance – continue to underlie its work in the second term.

"Our priorities have always been clear. They are: First, to maintain the momentum of high economic growth, while keeping the prices of essential commodities at affordable level.
 Second, to ensure that the proceeds of the growth process benefit all, but in particular, the weaker sections of society and backward regions of the country.

Third, to balance the twin imperatives of sustainable high growth and rising aspiration of better living ; and fourth, to ensure transparency, accountability and probity in governance," the Congress chief said.

Bills to be passed in Monsoon session

The National Livelihood Mission is being launched which aims at ensuring that half of the country’s rural women become members of self-help groups linked with banks that provide loans at low interest rates, she said.

The much-needed amendments to the Land Acquisition Act, and the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act still remain to be introduced in Parliament because of disruptions by the BJP. Gandhi said, adding "We are determined to introduce and pass these Bills in the Monsoon Session."

Pointing out that the UPA-II was approaching the mid-way mark with Singh completing seven years as Prime Minister, Gandhi congratulated him on achievements during his tenure."

She also extended congratulations to his Cabinet, to coalition partners as well as to all her colleagues.