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India needs to walk on two legs for development: PM

Manmohan said Govt must pursue policies that address the cry for equity and meet the demands of efficiency.

india Updated: Nov 15, 2005 22:03 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday emphasised the need for "walking on two legs -- of equity and efficiency" -- to take the nation forward towards a sustainable path of development.

"If we do not pay attention to the questions of equity and social justice and allow only market forces and individual enterprise to thrive, we will be pursuing a socially and politically unsustainable path of development," Singh said, kicking off the 2005 Hindustan Times Leadership summit.

Singh cautioned that, "If we focus all attention only on Government redistributing incomes and providing employment, while suffocating enterprise and creativity, we will be pursuing an economically and fiscally unsustainable path. Hence the need to "walk on two legs"-of equity and efficiency."

He said the government must pursue policies that address the "cry for equity and social justice" and at the same time pursue policies that meet the demands of efficiency and enterprise.

Rural India needs a better deal

Pledging full support to the growth of private enterprise as part of national development which he described as a challenge before the country, Singh stressed upon the need to give rural India a "better deal".

No region of the country could claim quality of life in its rural areas, he observed candidly adding that "the physical and social infrastructure of rural India has to catch up with urban India."

The Prime Minister also admitted bureaucratic "roadblocks" to growth of private enterprise, but said he was committed to break those "shackles" to allow their growth.

Dualism in society

Singh said India can no longer afford to ignore the "dualism in the society" wherein the urban areas surge ahead on the path to progress while the rural India lags behind.

"There is an India which wants to move stronger while there is another which is trying hard to catch on with it. No government can ignore either challenge," he said.

The Prime minister pointed while there was need for more investment, there was a limit to which governments could generate. "The real responsibility for change lies with the state governments," he noticed.

He also called for a check on wasteful subsidies and said the citizens must be convinced to pay some sort of "user charges" to fill this gap.

Cities are engines of growth

Infrastructural facilities in cities are not being able to cope with the burgeoning population growth in the country, he said adding that "we need to create new cities to a cater to a much bigger urban population," he said.

"Our cities are unable to meet the basic needs of the residents. ... We need a new wave of city building," Singh said.

He referred to his government's ambitious National Urban Renewal Mission which he said was a step in achieving urban goals.

Singh said he could foresee cities making up half of India's population because of a rapid influx to urban areas.

"Cities are engines of growth," he remarked, saying they were home to enterprise and creativity.

Literacy and development

Walking down memory lane, the Prime Minister recalled his school days, saying he owed his rise to access to quality education which he said was key to development.

"There is a co-relation between literacy and development... We can ignore it at our own peril," he said.

Education, he said, deserves greater attention in order to reach targets of development. "Education has become moribund and is not meeting the needs of today. ... We have not done enough."

Singh said the challenges before the country was to provide better education, provide access to health, sanitation and a better environment to people residing in rural areas.

"No region of India can claim that its quality of life in villages is satisfactory. Be it sanitation, education, public health, electricity, roads, public spaces and environment, what ever be the criteria, rural India deserves a better deal," he said.

The physical and social infrastructure in rural India must catch up at least with that of semi-urban India within the next decade, he said adding his government's Bharat Nirman Programme was aimed at developing infrastructure in rural areas in a time-bound manner.

Shared destiny with neighbours

Singh also warned that South Asia could "miss the bus" of becoming one of the major global economies in the 21st century" if it failed to show the resolve and maturity to grasp the opportunity at hand.

Urging the neighbours to walk with India towards a brighter future, the Prime Minister said, "India and its neighbours have a shared destiny. Our prosperity will be their prosperity and their progress will be our progress."

Expressing concern over the "internal constraints" which are hindering development, Singh said, "the world wants India to succeed and there are no longer any binding external constraints on India. We have to overcome internal constraints and work hard to realise our destiny."

First Published: Nov 15, 2005 01:34 IST