Poor should not be hit by the hubris of the rich: Sonia Gandhi (Lead)

November 21st, 2008 - 2:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiNew Delhi, Nov 21 (IANS) Congress party president Sonia Gandhi expressed concern here Friday that the current global economic upheaval could grievously affect the most vulnerable sections of India, but at the same time maintained there was no need for the country to get back to the era of controls.“The poor have nothing to do with the hubris of the rich. Their lives are spent close to the edge, simply trying to make ends meet after a hard day’s toil,” Gandhi said at the inaugural session of the two-day Hindustan Times Leadership Summit held at the Taj Palace Hotel.

“They have nothing to do with the fancy-sounding financial instruments - derivatives and credit default swaps - that have ensnared so many and which very few even fully understand,” said Gandhi, whose address largely dwelt on the problems of the “aam aadmi” (common man).

In the same breath she held that India would “not be thrown off course by the winds buffeting us from abroad”.

“There is no need for over-reaction, let alone for panic. There is no need for us to get back to the era of controls. At the same time we cannot allow things to spin out of control.

“This means that liberalization must be pursued within a framework of sensible but not heavy handed regulation.”

Gandhi’s speech, which moderator Vir Sanghvi, editorial director of Hindustan Times, jokingly described as the “preview of the Congress manifesto”, held out an assurance that in the present crisis the government would do all “to ensure the well-being of the hundreds of millions of Indians who are striving to make ends meet to manage two square meals a day and to put a roof over their heads.”

“Should they become the victims of the unchecked greed of bankers and businessmen? Should the avarice of a few be allowed to inflict misery on the many?” she asked.

“Growth for us has never been only about per capita income figures. It has always been a means to an end.”

Gandhi, who spoke from a prepared text at the summit after crying off from a “conversation” with participants citing lack of time band bad throat, said at this particular juncture the country needed greater public investment in both physical and social infrastructure.

“The need is all the more urgent now in this troubled period. The approach has to be anchored in collaborative partnerships - between public and private, rich and poor, between industry and agriculture, between state institutions and private companies and civil society organisations.”

Social sector schemes like the Rural Employment Guarantee scheme, the mid-day meals, workers’ health insurance and other initiatives had helped the underprivileged in many ways, she said.

“Too many of our fellow Indians reach for the sky every day without a social safety net under them. We must provide them with the basic security they deserve.”

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