“Inclusive growth must be primary driving force for sustainable development”
The economic prosperity that the country experienced over the past few decades would mean nothing if, on account of poverty, a significant percentage of the population failed to participate in its development, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Monday. Calling for inclusive growth, the President said a poverty ratio of around 30 per cent and an illiteracy rate of 26 per cent were “simply not acceptable.”
“A decisive reduction in poverty will be possible only if there is an expansion in economic opportunities for all sections of society. Inclusive growth should not be a mere slogan, but a fundamental driving force for sustainable development,” he said, presenting the CII-ITC Sustainability Awards 2012 at a function here.
Mr. Mukherjee said the “sustainability movement” in our country was now coming of age. The framework of ‘Triple Bottom Line’ objectives of creating share-holder value and building social and environmental capital promoted by ITC was finding broad-based support.
“India is today the third largest economy in the world on [the] purchasing power parity basis. It is also the second fastest growing economy, with its growth rate second only to China. Over the last few decades, our economy has shown a capacity to grow faster. The average annual growth rate of 5.5 per cent during the Ninth Five Year Plan period increased to 7.7 and 7.9 per cent during the Tenth and Eleventh Plan periods respectively. In six out of the last nine years, the growth rate of our economy had exceeded 8 per cent,” the President said, adding that he hoped that the economy would succeed in reversing the short-term deceleration in growth rate and get back to the annual growth levels of 8 to 9 per cent.
He also expressed hope that industry would prove to be an able partner in dealing with the challenges of poverty alleviation, mitigation of environmental degradation, response to climate change, increasing competition in international markets and escalation in energy demand.
Mr. Mukherjee called for efficient use of energy and said businesses must be able to operate without compromising the future capacity of the ecosystem.
“Our country is the fourth biggest consumer of energy in the world, after the U.S., China and Russia. Energy Intensity, a measure of energy efficiency of an economy that indicates the cost of converting energy into GDP, is higher for India than developed nations such as the U.K., Germany, Japan and the U.S. Thus, the high economic growth rate of above 8 per cent per annum that we have envisaged for our country in the next five years could entail significant consumption of energy. We must vigorously pursue policies that promote energy efficiency.”