New Delhi, Dec 6 (UNI) As the Eleventh Five Year Plan is expected to be approved in a fortnight's time, Congress President Sonia Gandhi said the Plan was not just for sustaining high economic growth but, more critically, for empowering the weaker sections of the society to derive tangible benefits from the growth.
"It is a Plan for addressing regional disparities, for strengthening the foundations of our agriculture and for expanding access to education, health and nutrition," she told the Party MPs at the General Body meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP), attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
She said the Plan would reflect the Party's priorities and programmes.
Pointing out that the Manmohan Singh Government had already completed three and half years, Ms Gandhi asked the Party MPs to interact with the people deeply in the context of the Lok Sabha elections being not far away.
She asked them to create awareness among the people about the Government's flagship programmes. "...Inform yourselves about their implementation, learn from them what they expect of us and as party workers, participate in activities which will strengthen the party." Referring to the passage of the Indira Gandhi National Tribal University Bill, she said it was a landmark legislation and would open up vast new opportunities for tribal youth, particularly in professional education, something that they urgently need.
Ms Gandhi highlighted the Indira GAndhi National Old Age Pension Scheme, and said this was a fulfilment of a key pledge of the Congress manifesto.
In this context, she said the country had 7.5 per cent of the population whose age was above 60. "Though the figure seems to be small in percentage term, the absolute numbers exceed 7.5 crores and growing." Ms Gandhi referred to the Rs 790-crore integrated handloom development programme, the national urban housing and habitat policy and the Rs 1530 crore post matric scholarship scheme for students belonging to minority communities.
About 1.5 million minority youth would benefit from the scholarship scheme over the next five years.