NEED TO EMPOWER THE POOR OF INDIA BY PROVIDING BASIC NECESSITIES – TIME TO MAKE REFORM PROCESS INTERACTIVE AND COLLABORATIVE TO INCLUDE ALL PARTS OF SOCIETY
KAMAL NATH ADDRESSES PARTNERSHIP SUMMIT
Date : 16 Jan 2008
Location : New Delhi
Shri Kamal Nath, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, has underlined the need to empower the poor of India by providing basic necessities such as shelter, education, health and jobs. “We have made a start. The 2007 Budget has provided a 31% rise in rural infrastructure expenditure and broadened the availability of farm credit. But we have still miles to go”, the Minister said while addressing the Special Plenary Session of Partnership Summit titled “Accelerating Inclusive & Sustainable Growth, Integrating with the Globe”, here today. He further stated that the time has come to make our reform process interactive and collaborative to include all parts of society, including business, politics and civil society. Mr. Ferenc Gyurcsany, Prime Minister of Hungary; Shri Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Chief Minister of Haryana; and Shri Sunil Bharti Mittal, President, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) besides representatives from various countries such as Sri Lanka, Singapore, UK, Ethiopia, Australia, Syria, South Africa, Japan, UAE, El Salvador and Ontario participated and spoke on the occasion.
Shri Kamal Nath said: “our Prime Minister has repeatedly reminded the private sector of the need for inclusive growth across the country. I would like to add to this. By partnering us in the development process, you will be unlocking a market that has been estimated at over $ 170 billion by international agencies. You should capitalize on this opportunity to provide productive and constructive direction to the reform process”. While quoting the recent McKinsey study, the Minister observed that people in rural India have a per capita income, which is almost 30% lower than the national average. This probably explains why we know so little about rural India. It also explains why most of our businesses, jobs, products and processes are urban-centric.
“To ensure inclusive growth, we need to see rural India through new eyes. As companies, you will need to develop new price points and set up alternative supply chains to address rural needs. You will need to develop durable relationships with NGOs, self help groups and micro finance institutions to penetrate rural India. To unearth the wealth in rural India, you must innovate. Today, Indian companies are rethinking the way they manage assets, distribute products and use technologies to create new services. I believe many of these can help rural India. For example, I know that a leading private sector Indian bank is expanding its rural network by setting up automated teller machines in villages and providing credit and deposit facilities to millions of Indians who had limited access to financial institutions. Then again, the e-chaupal experience has been well documented”, Shri Kamal Nath said.
The Minister added that “Inclusive Growth” is also about the successful management of demographics. With half the population under the age of twenty-five, India already has the youngest labour force in the world and will have more young workers aged 20 to 24 by 2013. “I have no doubt that if these workers are adequately trained and skilled, they will give the country a huge competitive advantage in terms of raising per capita incomes and reducing dependency ratios. I call upon Indian industry to play its part in skill-building.