Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has said that “faster” reforms are necessary for inclusive progress and mere high rate of growth is not a cure-all.

Delivering the 4th Nani Palkhiwala Memorial lecture here last evening, Chidambaram also stressed the need for “inclusive growth”.

“The worst thing will be to bask in the glory of nine per cent growth and go back to lazy reforms,” Chidambaram, who earlier held Finance portfolio in Manmohan Singh’s government, said.

Saying that “millions have remained outside the market economy”, he said that “faster reforms” were needed in the sectors such as Foreign Direct Investment and Education.

At the same time, “higher growth rate is not a panacea”, he warned, adding that for inclusive growth, measures such as subsidizing transport fuels, fertilizers and food grains, were necessary, “though pundits may disagree“.

Defending the loan waiver granted to farmers by Congress government in the previous term, Chidambaram said between 1999 and 2004, banks wrote off Rs. 47,123 crore worth loans in the industrial sector.

This benefited only a few hundred industries and their workers, whereas farm loan waiver helped 36 million farmers, who are debt free in the face of this year’s drought, he said.

Orthodox economic views have no place in the policy which aims at inclusive growth, he said.

Chidambaram said the GDP to tax ratio in India was low compared with developed countries.

“People must pay more tax, given the capacity to pay,” he said.

Paying tributes to Nani Palkhiwala, Chidambaram said Palkhiwala “pulled us back from the brink” when he successfully argued before the Supreme Court against “misguided attempt to amend the Constitution in 1976”.

Aruna Roy, former IAS officer and one of the founders of Right To Information movement and city-based Public Concern and Governance Trust were given Palkhiwala awards for `protection of civil liberties in India’ on the occasion.

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