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How India plans to fight poverty

Last updated on: October 27, 2010 18:52 IST

How India plans to fight poverty

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Shishir Bhate in Kuala Lumpur

India's stellar economic growth notwithstanding, chronic poverty continues to bedevil the nation.

So how does the country bridge the rich-poor gap and lift the millions of Indians who suffer due to destitution?

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh outlined his recipe, on Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur, to help its poor pull themselves out of the morass of penury, when he was asked how this could be done.

He said that India needs to fully depend on itself. "We need to walk on our feet," he said.

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Photographs: Reuters
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How India plans to fight poverty

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First, India needs to stimulate the growth process;

Two, that while India's economy grows at a fast pace, it needs to ensure that the development is truly inclusive and that all the constraints that keep the impoverished from empowerment are removed;

Third, the country needs to invest heavily in, both, basic and higher education, healthcare, rural infrastructure, and environment.

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Image: A village school.
Photographs: Reuters
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Reflecting on some of the key features of the new phase in India's economic development, the prime minister said that India needs to take six steps to keep the development going:

First, India seeks rapid economic growth that will create wealth for our people and also generate surpluses to fund our ambitious social development programmes.

Second, the nation seeks growth that creates employment and development that is socially and regionally balanced and inclusive.

Third, India wants to build a modern, knowledge and science-based economy to complement the nation's agricultural and industrial base.

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Image: A paint manufacturing plant.
Photographs: Reuters
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Fourth, India wants development to be sustainable so that the wealth of its natural resources is conserved for future generations.

Fifth, India looks forward to a cooperative relationship with its neighbours and other partners so that all can prosper and benefit from one another's development.

Sixth, India wants to realise its development ambitions within the framework of a plural and secular democracy, where each citizen should have equal opportunity for economic, social and cultural advancement.

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Image: India plans to conserve natural resources.

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"More than half of our population depends on agriculture for the bulk of their income.

We are increasing our investment in agriculture. We hope to use our scientific capabilities to create a new growth momentum in agriculture through a second green revolution. This is vital for our food security and to ensure an inclusive growth process," the prime minister said.

"Over the past few years we have initiated a number of far-reaching programmes that have the potential to change the face of rural India and to make our growth more inclusive.

These cover rural health, employment guarantee, urban reforms and rural infrastructure and focus on people's participation and empowerment and the quality of services," he added.

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Image: A man working in his field.
Photographs: Reuters
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Inadequate infrastructure is a major constraint and India is determined to overcome it.

In the Twelfth Five Year Plan India will spend up to $1 trillion. There are big plans afoot in India to set up special investment funds that can be used to finance long-gestation infrastructure projects.

"The basic objective of our development processes is to realise the values and ideals on which our Republic was founded.

Our development efforts reflect and reinforce our ideals of equality, the right to a life of dignity and well being and brotherhood among all nations," the prime minister said.


Photographs: Reuters
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