Redistribute economic, political power to rural poor: VP

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New Delhi, Jun 24 (UNI) Vice-President Hamid Ansari today called for the redistribution of economic and political power, inclusion of rural areas and rural poor in development, enhancing access to resources and employment in rural areas, focus on non-farm rural activities, education and training activities and agrarian reforms continue to be important areas for public policy.

Delivering the inaugural address at the 'Ministerial Retreat&Special Session of Governing Council of the Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP)' here, the Vice-President said in Asia in general, and in India in particular, poverty has a rural face. Rural development and poverty alleviation are thus two sides of the same coin.

He said that the world is facing an unprecedented global hike in the prices of agricultural commodities, with concomitant impact and food security for the poor and vulnerable. While macro-economic and globalisation issues have been debated, these remain the penumbra of this agrarian crisis.

Mr Ansari said that the agrarian reform and rural development issues are inherently political in nature. While economic and social interventions are necessary, they are not enough to bring about the desired outcome. It is therefore, the duty of policy makers to ensure that the interaction of politics with policy is constructive and synergistic. As important personalities influencing policy formulation and implementation, sharing best practices and benefiting from the experiences of each other would contribute to our common goal of promoting rural development and regional cooperation.

He stressed the need to ensure the interaction of politics with policy in constructive and synergistic manner. Recalling the declaration of the International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development held in Brazil in March 2006 he said a number of fundamental rights related to land and natural resources, food sovereignity, women, indigenous people, pastoralists and vulnerable groups-should be better recognised in policies, institutional patterns and plans. In this context, India has developed a noticeably sharper focus on poverty alleviation and rural development programmes and significantly enhanced its expenditure manifold-from Rs 76 billion in 1993-94 to Rs 340 billion in 2003-04 and Rs 1200 billion in the current financial year.

The Vice-President referred to the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and said it has emerged as a social security net for the vulnerable groups and an opportunity to combine growth with equity. He expressed the hope that this ministerial retreat would discuss the role of Information Technology in sustainable livelihoods and women empowerment.

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