India needs peace to grow fast

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In her address to the nation on the eve of the 60th Republic Day President Pratibha Patil has focused on terrorism, which is quite natural as the epicenter of terrorism continues to be in India’s neighborhood. Last year the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai found their echo in the President’s speech as she was forthright in rejecting Pakistan’s contention that it was the handiwork of non-state actors. This year, she has reiterated that India would continue to “work with the international community to combat this menace.” The Naxalite and Maoist threat is also growing. The government has strengthened its internal security setup. A non-performing Home Minister has been replaced. Now  P. Chidambaram is putting in place a new security architecture, downsizing the National Security Adviser in the process.

Another important issue Pratibha Patil has highlighted is the need for inclusive growth. Empower-ment of the disadvantaged is a recurrent theme in the speeches of the President and the Prime Minister. But what has the government done in this regard? As the Finance Minister in the P.V. Narasimha Rao government, Dr. Man-mohan Singh had suggested a social safety net for the poor. This still remains an unrealized dream. Large amounts are disbursed as subsidies at the Central and state levels in the name of the poor but how far these reach the needy is anybody’s guess. The delivery system is notorious for leakages.

India cannot achieve a double-digit growth rate in the absence of peace. Apart from favorable policies a congenial environment is crucial for moving up the economic ladder. In addition to causing the loss of precious lives and damage to property, terror attacks dent India’s image as a business-friendly country and scare away foreign investment. Therefore, the President’s advice should not be taken lightly as a Republic Day ritual. Policy-makers should incorporate her ideas in workable plans.

Courtesy: The Tribune

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