|NEW DELHI (CNN) -- India's 50th
anniversary of independence was celebrated with fireworks, laser beams and
parades. But the pageantry was overshadowed Friday as Prime Minister Inder
Kumar Gujral soberly described the nation's rampant bribery and corruption
and called for a crusade to fight it.
India is considered one of the most corrupt countries,
and investors say the demand for bribes at every step of the development
has held up its free-market program.
India's last government lost elections after it was
buried by scandals involving Cabinet ministers. Among those charged with
corruption was the former leader of Gujral's party.
"We have to build a mass movement in which all can
join so that corruption in politics, politicians and public life must
end," Gujral said in a solemn speech to the nation from the Red Fort,
a 17th-century monument. "It is eating into the country's vitals like
Gujral promised to break the link between politicians
and criminals and "make government functioning more