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Last Updated: Monday, 7 June, 2004, 10:05 GMT 11:05 UK
India reforms 'to help the poor'
Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
The new government says it reflects people's yearning for inclusiveness
India's new government will aim for economic reforms that will benefit the poor, President APJ Kalam has said in a ceremonial address to parliament.

The pledge came in a speech drafted by the new administration led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Mr Kalam said the Congress party-led government would maintain 7-8% growth every year and generate employment.

He said the new government was committed to a "high degree of financial discipline".

The government wanted to "make Indian people smile" and make this "India's century", the president said.

India's presidency has a largely ceremonial role, one of its duties being the traditional address to parliament of a new government's legislative programme.

Combating communalism

The speech also emphasised the new government's manifesto pledge to combat religious hatred.

Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam
It is a matter of serious concern that forces of communalism have been able to vitiate the atmosphere in the country leading to outbreak of riots
President APJ Kalam

"It is a matter of serious concern that forces of communalism have been able to vitiate the atmosphere in the country leading to outbreak of riots, the most gruesome face of which was witnessed in Gujarat," Mr Kalam said.

More than 1,000 people, mainly Muslims, died in the Gujarat riots in 2002- the worst in India in decades.

"My government is determined to combat such forces," Mr Kalam said.

Mr Kalam, in his speech, said the results of the recent general elections was "indicative of people's yearning for inclusiveness... and their rejection of the forces of divisiveness and intolerance".

"The verdict is for establishing the rule of law and repairing our social fabric."

Mr Kalam also promised that the new government would continue peace initiatives with Pakistan, and strengthen ties with United States.

The Congress party and its allies supported by the Communists were swept to power in the recent general elections.

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