New Delhi, Feb 25 : President Pratibha Patil on Monday said that the United Progressive Alliance Government is firmly committed to ensuring that the economic growth process is socially inclusive, regionally balanced and environmentally sustainable.
President Patil said that the UPA Government has launched several programmes to make the growth process socially inclusive and regionally balanced.
"These include Bharat Nirman, aimed at bridging the rural-urban gap in development; the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act to soften the sharp edges of poverty and offer basic livelihood security; Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, for giving equal opportunity to our children in realizing their potential, further strengthened through a universal midday meal programme; the National Rural Health Mission, offering the rural poor access to basic health care; and, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, promoting socially inclusive and economically manageable urban development," President Patil said while addressing the joint session of the Parliament.
To make the growth process more participatory, responsive and accountable, the government has sought to strengthen panchayati raj institutions and has enshrined in law a Right to Information Act, she added.
Commenting on the economic prosperity achieved by the Central Government, the President said: "My Government's strategy of "inclusive growth" has been enabled by, and has in turn contributed to, the acceleration of economic growth."
"For the first time in history, the Indian economy has grown at close to nine per cent per annum for four years in a row. The historically high investment rate, of over 35 per cent of GDP, and savings rate, of over 34 per cent of GDP, symbolize a new dynamism in our economy," she added.
She also said that the UPA Government has endeavoured to insulate the Indian consumer from these global inflationary trends, adding, "World crude oil prices have almost doubled in the past two years to reach an all-time high of 100 dollars per barrel, yet my government has managed to moderate the impact on the domestic consumer."
President Patil said that the architecture of inclusive growth is further consolidated through the Eleventh Five Year Plan.
"The Plan has set a target of nine per cent GDP growth for the country as a whole to be achieved in a manner that would provide equality of opportunity for quality education, for employment and for enterprise, free people from the burden of ill-health and eliminate discrimination," she said.
President Patil said that the Central Government has been paying special attention to the welfare of farmers and has reversed the decline in public investment in agriculture.
The target set in the National Common Minimum Programme of doubling agricultural credit in three years has been substantially exceeded, she added.
To bring the "financially excluded" population within the formal banking system, banks have been directed to utilize the services of self-help groups (SHG), micro finance institutions and other civil society organizations to this end, President Patil said.