New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday listed 'five key challenges' that his government wants to meet in 2012, economic reforms topping his agenda.

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The challenges, he said, are livelihood security covering education, food, health and employment, economic security, energy security, ecological security and national security.

“I have identified five key challenges facing us. These will be on top of our policy agenda this year,” Manmohan Singh said in his New Year's message to the nation.

Seemingly not bothered by the past turbulences his government faced in 2011, the prime minister rather chose to look forward to tackle the 'challenges ahead'.

“On this New Year's Day, I do not wish to dwell on the year gone by. Instead, I would like to focus on the challenges of the future, so that we can all work together to overcome them,” he said.

He said the ‘biggest challenge’ today remained that of banishing poverty, ignorance and diseases from India.

“We must work to build an India that holds the promise of prosperity to the many millions of our people who are just beginning to emerge out of poverty. We must remain focused on this fundamental task in the 12th Five Year Plan period which begins in 2012-13.”

The second challenge, the Prime Minister said, is economic security.

“There are many challenges we have to face if we want to maintain (the economic) growth in the years ahead, as indeed we must.”

He stressed that the country needed to ‘usher in the many reforms needed to trigger rapid industrialisation and to build the infrastructure which such industrialisation needs’.

Noting that the energy security challenge was 'particularly great for India', Manmohan Singh said attempt to tap both old and new sources of energy was being threatened by a 'range of problems'.

“Be it coal or hydro power, oil or nuclear power, we find new challenges that have to be overcome to develop these resources to the fullest extent possible. We must re-examine all domestic constraints on such development to see how they can be overcome,” he said.

On ecological security, the Prime Minister said economic growth could not be allowed to be pursued in a manner which damages environment.

'As responsible citizens of the world, we must pursue a pattern of development which reduces greenhouse gas emissions.'

The fifth challenge, according to Manmohan Singh, was that of the national security.

He said: 'Most importantly, our vibrant democracy faces threats to internal and external security which together can be viewed as the challenge of national security.'

'For, our national security is the modernisation of our defence forces. Our army, our navy and our air force require modernisation and upgradation of personnel and systems. Ensuring this will remain my most important task as Prime Minister.

(Agencies)