Patil pitches for robust economy, inclusive growth

February 25th, 2008 - 2:58 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil

New Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) Saying that “India is on the move”, President Pratibha Patil Monday underlined the government’s commitment to “inclusive growth” as she unveiled plans to enhance investment in education, agriculture, health and rural development in her maiden address to the joint session of parliament. In her all-encompassing speech, Patil struck an optimistic note about the beleaguered India-US civil nuclear deal, saying the government hoped that “civil nuclear cooperation with the USA and other friendly countries will become possible”.

The president reiterated the government’s determination to strengthen relations with India’s neighbours and all major powers of the world.

“The parliament convenes at a time when the economy is on the move. My government remains firmly committed to ensuring that the economic growth process is socially inclusive, regionally balanced and environmentally sustainable,” Patil said in her address as the budget session of parliament began Monday.

“The measures taken by my government have created the necessary architecture of inclusive growth,” she stressed in her address, which serves as a defining policy statement by the government for the year.

Patil then went on to list a slew of schemes launched by the government to achieve the objective of “socially inclusive and regionally balanced growth”, including Bharat Nirman, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Education for All programme), the National Rural Health Mission and the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

Setting an upbeat tone for robust economic growth, the president stressed on the government’s strategy of blending inclusive development with the acceleration of economic growth.

“For the first time in history, the Indian economy has grown at close to nine percent per annum for four years in a row,” she said.

“The historically high investment rate, of over 35 percent of GDP, and savings rate, of over 34 percent of GDP, symbolise a new dynamism in our economy.”

The president also emphasised on the government’s resolve to continue on the path of economic growth while keeping prices under check.

Holding out high hope for sustained economic growth, she said: “I am confident that the creativity, enterprise and hard work of our young people will be able to sustain these high rates in the years to come.”

“India is on the move. There is an air of optimism among our youth and of expectation among the less-privileged sections of society.”

“The challenge before us is to sustain the development process in the face of external and internal threats. The people of India have the potential to fuel the engine of global growth,” she said while alluding to the threat of terrorism facing the nation and the world.

Inclusive growth, however, remained the reigning mantra of the president’s address.

Patil announced an increase in outlay on education from 7.68 percent of the Central Gross Budgetary Support in the 10th Plan to over 19 percent in the Eleventh Plan.

“The outlays on agriculture, health and rural development have been tripled,” she said.

“Taken together with education, these sectors account for more than half of the Central Gross Budgetary Support as compared to less than 1/3rd in the Tenth Plan,” she added.

“This is a major structural shift in plan priorities, aimed at reducing disparities and empowering people,” the president stressed.

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