Sonia awaits pro-farmer Budget 2008-09

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{image-soniagandhi150 100_20022008.jpg}Rae Bareli, Feb 20: Stressing the importance of empowerment and development of women for society, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today said she expected some favourable proposals for them and farmers in the coming Budget.

''No society can prosper and progress without the contribution of women and no economy can be self-reliant if women are not self-reliant,'' she said, addressing a function here to mark the centenary of Bank of Baroda. Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram was also present on the occasion. Later addressing a select gathering in her parliamentary constituency, Ms Gandhi strongly pitched for women Self-Help Groups (SHGs), saying these had made women more economically emancipated and instilled a level of confidence among them.

''The Self-Help Group concept has not only made the women self-sufficient but also contributed to the progress and development of the society,''she said. The Congress president also inaugurated 100 women SHGs on the occasion. Urging banks and financial institutions to be 'liberal' in giving loans, Ms Gandhi said the repayment of loans was the duty of the borrowers, but at the same time, the financial bodies should adopt a ''humanitarian approach'' in the recovery process.

Mr Chidambaram noted that women were definitely better borrowers than men. ''While the recovery of loans from women was almost hundred per cent, the same could not be said of men,'' he said. The Minister said the banks were obliged to grant loans and did not do any special favours if they do so.

In his remarks, Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi said over one lakh women had been involved with the SHGs in Amethi and Rae Bareli. ''The success of SHGs in these two constituencies had changed the popular notion that this concept could be successful in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh only,'' he added.
The function, organised at Feroze Gandhi Enginering College, was also attended by Union Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, Union Minister of State for Finance Pawan Kumar Bansal and Minister of State for Petroleum Dinsha Patel.


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