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PM blames lack of political consensus for slow growth

New Delhi: Battling the charge of policy paralysis in the government, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today blamed lack of political consensus for slow growth and vowed to do everything to boost economy through investments while linking development processes to national security.

Addressing the nation from the ramparts of historic Red Fort on the occasion of 66th Independence Day, he promised to work for reducing corruption in public life and sought the help of all political parties in passing the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill in Parliament in this regard.

During his 35-minute speech in Hindi, Singh made a host of announcements in social sector like expanding the national health scheme and electrification, undertaking skill development and assessment of teachers.

The 79-year-old economist Prime Minister also sought to encourage foreign investors, who have been apprehensive after certain recent taxation decisions, that there would be "no barriers" to investment in India.

He referred to violence in Assam and promised that the causes would be looked into and steps taken to ensure that such incidents are not repeated anywhere else.

He highlighted that internal security in the country, including Jammu and Kashmir, had improved but said the recent blasts in Pune were a reminder that more needed to be done.

In his ninth consecutive Independence Day address, only the third Prime Minister to do so after Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, Singh said there was a need to "introspect what remains to be done" so that "we learn from our failures and build on our successes".

"As far as creating an environment within the country for rapid economic growth is concerned, I believe that we are not being able to achieve this because of a lack of political consensus on many issues," Singh said.

"Time has now come to view the issues which affect our development processes as matters of national security," he said.

The statement assumes significance as the government has been facing the charge of policy paralysis with key economic reforms decisions, like FDI in retail, being stuck due to opposition by allies.

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