Economic growth will have “meaning and value,” only when its benefits reach the weaker sections, particularly Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities, Chairperson of the National Advisory Council Sonia Gandhi said here on Saturday.

Speaking after dedicating the new Rajiv Gandhi Government Women and Children Hospital and the Indira Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, she said: “Economic growth and social empowerment should always go hand in hand. It will have its meaning and value only when the benefits reach the weaker sections. This has always been and will be the agenda of the United Progressive Alliance government.”

The Congress-led UPA had always followed a progressive agenda and policy for inclusive growth to ensure that the weaker sections of society directly benefited from faster economic growth.

“It is the result of high economic growth that we have been able to generate wealth to invest in welfare programmes,” she said.

Turning to the affairs of the Union Territory, she said, “Puducherry stands out in the country for its many accomplishments.”

The territory is a model for social peace and harmony and education and health, she said adding that the Mangalam model of Self-Help Group has been widely appreciated in other states.

Further, Ms. Gandhi said “the region represents the secular ethos of the country.” While complimenting the government for the twin hospital projects, she said efforts should be made to bring the medical college on a par with the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER).

Chief Minister V. Vaithilingam and Home Minister E. Valsaraj spoke.

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram; Union Minister of State for Planning, Parliamentary Affairs and Culture V. Narayanasamy; Lieutenant Governor Iqbal Singh; Speaker R. Radhakrishan; Minister for Public Works M.O.H.F Shahjahan; Revenue Minister Malladi Krishna Rao; Social Welfare Minister M. Kandasamy; Minister for Public Health A. Namassivayam; Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) P. Kannan; former Chief Minister N. Rangasamy, Members of the Legislative Assembly and a large number of party functionaries attended the function.

Warm reception

Earlier the UPA Chairperson arrived at Puducherry airport around 3 p.m. She was accorded a warm welcome.

Keywords: Sonia GandhiUPA