PM sets eight-point social development agenda for IBSA

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Johannesburg, Oct 17 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today unveiled an eight-point Social Development Strategy for the IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) Forum with a focus on rapid economic growth, inclusivity, equitable infrastructure, distress mitigation and grass-roots institution building.

''The question is what we together can bring to the table based on our own real life experiences. We are pluralistic democracies, developing economies and aspire for rapid economic growth,'' he said, while speaking at the second IBSA Summit here.

In this context, Dr Singh appreciated Brazilian President Inacio Lula Da Silva's ''Bolsa Familia'' Programme and South African President Thabo Mbeki's ''Accelerated Skill Development''.

Dr Singh asked the IBSA Forum to put in place ''mechanisms'' for taking concrete steps to translate some of the principles highlighted by him in his eight-point strategy and put them into action through collaborative effort.

''We could consider some joint initiatives on some of these elements as well.'' In the eight-point Social Development Strategy suggested by Dr Singh, it was highlighted that necessary resources for investing in social development could be generated only within the framework of a rapidly expanding economy.

''We have to have faith in the creativity and enterprise of our people and create favourable conditions for these to have full play,'' he said.

Referring to inclusivity, Dr Singh said economic growth could not happen in isolation. Unless all sections of the society derived benefits from such growth and develop a stake in the growth process, ''we will be courting social and political instability.'' In this context, he pointed out that disparities of any type -- regional, gender, inter-community, inter-group -- harm the growth process in the long run. Though addressing this aspect was easier said than done, all should share and learn from diverse experiences.

Stressing the need for human resource development, Dr Singh said it was essential that people were empowered and enabled to become active participants in the growth processes. In this context, he favoured adequate resources committed to education and skill development at all levels.

Laying stress on equitable infrastructure, Prime Minister called for strengthening the infrastructure needs of the poor as they are important facilitators of growth.

There must be adequate investment in rural infrastructure, connectivity, clean drinking water, sanitation facilities, health care and social welfare.

Suggesting a slew of short-term mitigation measures, Dr Singh mainly focused on immediate steps to address the problems of unemployment and threatened livelihoods.

In this context, Dr Singh narrated the successful implementation of his government's flagship programme National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, which seeks to provide guaranteed employment for 100 days to one member of each rural household, and asked Brazil and South Africa to implement employment generation programmes linked to food security initiatives which can provide immediate relief and succour.

Calling for encouraging civil society action, he said there was a need to ensure participatory democracy and effective governance at local levels. ''These institutions facilitate ownership of governance processes and social and economic mobility.'' The Prime Minister called for environmentally sound strategies, while warning that the world could not sustain highly consumptive societies on the pattern of some of the developed economies. ''Any growth strategy should be designed to minimise its adverse environmental effects.'' Referring to India's formulation of its Eleventh Five Year Plan on the basis of a political mandate for inclusive growth, he said based on this vision of an equitable and prosperous world, India had in the last few years, put in place programmes which could accelerate the processes of development in an equitable, fair and all-encompassing manner.


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