Manmohan Singh talks growth,
Sonia Gandhi assures inclusion
By Arvind Padmanabhan
Delhi, Nov 21 (IANS) In politically coordinated speeches by
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and United Progressive Alliance
(UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, the ruling dispensation Friday
sought to send the message that it will go into the election
with the mantra of economic growth with social inclusion.
setting was the Durbar Hall of Taj Palace Hotel for the two-day
Hindustan Times Leadership Summit where in the inaugural address
the prime minister exuded confidence that India would overcome
the global economic crisis, while Sonia Gandhi, who spoke
therafter, gave an assurance that her Congress party-led government
will insulate the vulnerable sections of society from its
their respective speeches, which was heard by a distinguished
audience at the packed conference hall, sounded more like
the manifesto of their Congress party, which heads the ruling
UPA coalition government, ahead of the national elections
scheduled early next year.
global economy is going through choppy waters. However, we
can and will survive this crisis and emerge stronger if we
have the imagination and will to work together," said
the economist prime minister. "We can and will sustain
an eight percent growth.”
Gandhi spoke more like a political leader, mouthing populist
rhetoric before elections. "What concerns us most today
is that this economic upheaval could grievously effect the
most vulnerable sections of our society. The poor had nothing
to do with the habits of the rich."
said the poor, who had nothing to do with the "hubris
of the rich" and spent their lives close to the edge
by simply trying to make ends meet after a hard day's toil,
had nothing to do with the "fancy-sounding financial
instruments" that were responsible for the current global
they then become the victims of the unchecked greed of bankers
and businessmen? Should the avarice of a few be allowed to
inflict misery on the many?" she queried.
answer: "It is our duty to ensure whatever action we
take in response to the turmoil protects them. The prime minister
himself has stressed this, and this remains our firm commitment.
Growth, for us, has never been about per capita income figures.
It has always been a means to an end."
if Manmohan Singh sought to emphasise on humility by recalling
how he had come to occupy the high office despite belonging
to a family of modest means from a small village, Sonia Gandhi
played the socialist card and said while India will not go
back to an era of controls, it also cannot allow matters to
spin out of control.
the prime minister said that India had both a stake and a
role to play in finding a solution to the crisis; while the
UPA chairperson empathised with India Inc for the problems
it was facing due of the financial turmoil but asked its captains
not to forget the well-being of hundreds of fellow citizens.
a responsible society, the ends we have to create about most
are the acceleration of employment generation, the expansion
in education, the provision of adequate healthcare, the supply
of clean drinking water and so much more," Sonia Gandhi
Singh's comments were similar: "India's success in transforming
the lives of its people as a liberal and plural democracy,
a free society and a free economy, will provide hope for millions
around the world. We may have paid a price in terms of economic
growth and efficiency, but we have gained as a free people."