Inclusive society needed for 'building India': Chidambaram

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New Delhi, Dec 13: Despite India growing at about nine per cent, the aspects of quality education, building infrastructure, entrepreneurship and an inclusive society need to be addressed in order to build India, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said today. Speaking at the Tie Entrepreneurship Summit, Mr Chidambaram said growth should not be exchanged for development.

"There is difference between a growing India and building India. Global India is riding the wave of annual growth of over 8.5 per cent since 2004 which, by 2012, will see average per capita incomes passing 825 dollars and India graduating to the ranks of a 'Middle Income Country'.

Mr Chidambaram said India must chastise itself for the poor quality of human resource. ''It is very important to build our Human Resource capabilities.'' He added that the state education was appalling with many schools operating on a single teacher.

''It is very important for us to pay attention to education, nutrition and quality of teaching. To improve the state of affairs we will allocate as much as 19 per cent of the GDP allocation for education under the 11th five year plan,'' Mr Chidambaram said.

In cities from Delhi to Mumbai, Kolkata to Bangalore, it is not hard to see the evidence of India's unprecedented economic boom, but Mr Chidambaram questioned the quality of infrastructure in the country-both urban and rural.

The minister said infrastructure in villages must improve to prevent rural India from being isolated and insular.

At the same time Mr Chidambaram cautioned against optimism of finding quality infrastructure in urban India.

''Sanitation, housing and quality of air is worse in urban India and in most cases urban India is divided between the ones who have access to infrastructure and the ones who do not,'' Mr Chidambaram said.

The Finance Minister suggested that the only way out was to build new cities from the scratch.

''In the long term, we will have to look to build 100-200 small towns with a population of 10-20 lakhs. These towns will be existing villages which will be built from the scratch. This will attract people from around the area and will be the cheapest option to develop infrastructure,'' Mr Chidambaram said.

Entrepreneurship has the typecast image of building large corporates. However, Mr Chidambaram said the ideal entrepreneurship for India will be which enables a person to build a business and employ few people.

Stating that the small and medium enterprises (SME) is responsible for the maximum number of employment in the country, Mr Chidambaram said ''it is important for states in the North East, East and Central India who have fallen behind in development to adopt this model.'' The booming India is the headline news, but the deeper question is whether the new India is leaving the old poor behind - or whether the benefits of a careering economy can help lift the poorest from poverty.

''It is very important to build an inclusive society. We have to ensure that everyone gets a stake in the future so that the vast society does not feel alienated,'' Mr Chidambaram said.

Mr Chidambaram called on the removal of biases in the society in the name of caste and creed.

''Most institutes have an inbuilt bias and everyone including the Supreme Court, legislature, government institutes and NGOs must shed its bias to make India's growth more inclusive,'' he added.

UNI

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