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Govt committed to improve access to education: PM

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Mar 25 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today reiterated the government's commitment to promote excellence and improve access to education for the people.

''Our specific focus has been on the most downtrodden segments of society, on economically under-privileged groups and religious minorities. In this whole area of affirmative action, India has proved to be a very versatile laboratory,'' the Prime Minister said while speaking at the Harvard University Alumni Association Conference here today.

Dr Singh said it was not high rates of economic growth alone that would ensure social and political stability and cohesion. ''A better economic life must be accompanied by the strengthening of liberal values and pluralism,'' he said.

The Prime Minister said one of the cause of concern was the rising cost of education. ''We should go beyond our Constitutional obligations to support certain sections of society, where means and social origins are the criterion for scholarships. We must devise complementary schemes based on merit-cum-means to reward excellence, while maintaining schemes that widen access.'' He emphasised that private initiative can and must supplement public investment, which was vitally necessary in the sphere of education.

However, the Prime Minister also mentioned the necessity of making a distinction between public investment, public support and governmental facilitation.

Dr Singh said the rise of a modern, self-confident India, with one billion people living lives of dignity, in peace and amity despite reflecting the diversities of the world was an experiment whose success had great salience to the global community.

Also present at the conference was renowned economist and nobel lauriate Prof Amartya Sen who recalled his half-a-century old association with Dr Singh and said the Prime Minister ''could combine with effortless ease the highest intellectual standards in the world while remaining deeply involved in practical problems that demand immediate attention.'' Prof Larry Summers, President, Harvard University Alumni Association Conference and a host of members of the Harvard Alumni Association were among those present on the occasion.

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