'It is the job of the government to raise resources for a rapidly growing economy'

The Indian economy is reaching a breaking point when it comes to fiscal and economic responsibility. The notion that money is free and the job of the State is to spend and not raise resources is a recipe for long- term disaster, Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh has said.

Delivering the valedictory address of the International Conference on Deepening Democracy here on Tuesday, he said Indian democracy had become financially unsustainable. “All governments and all political parties bear a heavy responsibility for this,” he said.

Mr. Ramesh said it was the job of the government to raise resources for a rapidly growing economy. “But that that has not been possible. How can you have bullet trains in India when out of every Rs.100 the Railways earns, Rs.98 is spent on maintenance and upkeep? Where is the money to invest in new trains and introduction of technology,” he asked.

He pointed out that Kerala, despite its achievements in women’s empowerment and gender equality, had a dismal record of women’s representation in the political framework.

Highlighting the need for periodic review and rejuvenation of democratic institutions in the country, he said, “Democracy can never be taken for granted. The answer to our weakness is more democracy”.

Inaugurating the valedictory session, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said Kerala had become the focal point of experiments in deepening democracy because of its egalitarian society and the lesser impact of feudalism. The devolution of funds has helped panchayati raj institutions to become more independent.

Panchayat Minister M. K. Muneer presided over the function. Rural Development Minister K. C. Joseph, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, S. M. Vijayanand and former Finance Minister T. M. Thomas Isaac were among those who spoke.