The economy is surging in strength and resilience but growth must be inclusive and touch all sections, President Pratibha Patil said on Tuesday, celebrating India’s successes and calling for egalitarian reforms that would enable everyone to enjoy its fruits.
"Growth, when unevenly spread, dwarfs overall prosperity,” she said in her maiden address to the nation on the eve of the 60th Independence Day.
Without going into the growth figures, Patil went beyond them. “Progress must relate to the lives of the people and we have to conscientiously discharge our responsibilities towards uplifting the socially and economically disadvantaged and weaker sections of the society,” she said. <b1>
Special care had to be taken to bring in 'egalitarian reforms' that will ensure the full benefit of economic liberalization reaches people at all levels, she said in her speech that captured the challenges facing the country in areas like agriculture, health and education and make them feel within reach.
In fact, Patil emphasised that the country was uniquely placed on “solid foundations” and looking ahead to the glorious path of infinite possibilities that await India with open arms.
“Today India is poised to take flight into this open sky of success and perfection… it is our duty, as individuals, and as a nation, to ensure that we do not let this unprecedented moment in time to go unutilised for the dream of a strong, robust and prosperous India," she said.
“For our nation to rise and claim its glorious destiny, we must realise that it is our billion hands that can shape it and, in the immortal clarion call of Swami Vivekananda, I ask my fellow citizens to 'Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached.”
Bridging the economic divide – also a point that frequently features in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s speeches – however, was only part of her vision of an inclusive India.
Patil said there was a need to weld the entire nation to make it strong and unassailable that would have no room for distrust between people. "For any nation and its people to become great, there is a need to pursue the path of collective vision," Patil said.
She said the more developed should inspire and enthuse the less developed to race ahead on the road to development and there should be an endeavour to fostering an environment of "cooperative federalism and collective pursuit of national goals".
The first woman President also asked people to resolve that women – who had excelled themselves at building homes and the nation – are not marginalised in the society.