Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 June 2019

Corruption eating away at India ‘like a termite’: Modi

Indian prime minister vows to eradicate graft and poverty in his country a day before his visit to the UAE.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi gestures as he delivers his Independence Day speech from The Red Fort in New Delhi on August 15. AFP Photo
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi gestures as he delivers his Independence Day speech from The Red Fort in New Delhi on August 15. AFP Photo

NEW DELHI // Prime minister Narendra Modi warned on Saturday that corruption was eating away at India “like a termite” as he used an independence day speech to pledge his commitment to eradicating graft and poverty.

In an address from Delhi’s Red Fort, Mr Modi sought to silence growing doubts about his leadership after key reforms stalled in a rancorous parliament session dogged by allegations of corruption involving some of his top lieutenants.

Mr Modi also warned against the “poison” of communalism in a wide-ranging speech that lasted for more than an hour.

But it was his comments on the dangers posed by corruption that drew most attention, including his admission that the problem went right to the top.

“I want to reaffirm that this nation will get rid of corruption. We can rid the country of corruption, we have to start from the top,” said Mr Modi.

“Corruption is like a termite, it spreads slowly, reaches everywhere, but it can be beaten with timely injections.”

Mr Modi’s speech comes after some of the most senior figures in his Bharatiya Janata Party became embroiled in corruption scandals, including foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and the chief ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh states.

The scandals have been particularly embarrassing as Mr Modi’s election win last year was built in part on a pledge to clean up government after a series of scams under the previous Congress administration.

Mr Modi said there had been no cases of money being siphoned off on his watch and that a new law on declaring income had led to the disclosure of around one billion dollars in hitherto hidden assets which will now be liable to tax.

Other economic reforms however have snagged in parliament, including a national sales tax that the government sees as crucial to firing up growth.

While the economy is growing at around 7.5 per cent, it still needs to pick up pace to elevate the hundreds of millions of people still mired in poverty in the world’s second most populous nation.

* Agence France-Presse

Updated: August 15, 2015 04:00 AM

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