India’s prime minister says his government is taking the “strictest possible action” against corruption.
Manmohan Singh said Monday in his Independence Day speech at New Delhi’s Red Fort that it is important not to create an atmosphere in which India’s progress comes into question while corruption cases are investigated.
The government has introduced a new anti-corruption bill in parliament that would create a powerful ombudsman, or Lokpal, with the powers to investigate ministers and bureaucrats.
However, activist Anna Hazare has dismissed the bill as ineffectual and has vowed to begin a hunger strike this week in protest.
Prime Minister Singh has appealed to Hazare to abandon his plans.
Late Sunday Indian President Pratibha Pail described corruption as “a cancer affecting our nation’s political, economic, cultural and social life.”
Allegations of high-level corruption have focused on preparations for last year’s Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and on the government’s sale of lucrative cell phone licenses.