Taking pot-shots at massive increase in wealth among a few, Union Minister for Science and Technology S. Jaipal Reddy said there has been no corresponding decrease in poverty. He said the vision of 21st century socialism must reduce income inequalities.

Speaking at an international seminar on ‘Democracy, socialism - visions for the 21st Century’ here on Friday, he said inequities per se had gone up in spite of huge increase in wealth. It would have a distorting effect on social structure, State policy and so forth.

Mr. Reddy also expressed concern over increasing defence budgets of various countries, including India. He said weapons were meant for destruction of people, while socialism was nothing but people’s welfare.

He said the other elements of 21 century socialism should include individual liberty, greater societal justice and eradication of poverty. While observing that it could not do without market system, he, however, warned that unregulated market could be unmitigated disaster. “I will plead for well-regulated market,” he added.

CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat said 21 century socialism should carry forward some original impulses of the October Revolution while discarding some negative aspects which manifested in the 20 century. He said public ownership of means of production should be of diverse forms, including that of the State, collective enterprise of workers and cooperatives.

While calling for regulation of markets by the State, he said planning should be decentralised. Socialism could not develop without active participation of people at all levels. Former Supreme Court Judge B. Sudharshan Reddy inaugurated the seminar, while K. Ramachandra Murthy, Chief Editor, HMTV-The Hans India, educationist Chukka Ramiah and founder of Centre for Dalit Studies Mallepalli Lakshmiah also spoke.