Manmohan pitches for higher economic growth, plurality

Manmohan pitches for higher economic growth, plurality

Friday, 05 November 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday said his government wished to give topmost priority to accelerated economic growth through just and equitable development.

Addressing the Hindustan Times Leadership Initiative conference here, Manmohan Singh also made out a case for a greater role for India in multilateral agencies and closer and wider economic engagement between India and its Asian neighbours.

"I sincerely believe that India's standing in the world will, in the final analysis, be defined by our domestic capabilities, by the well being and creativity of our people, by the resilience of our political and social institutions," he told a select gathering at the Maurya Sheraton Hotel here.

"Our government would like to give the highest priority to an acceleration of the rate of economic growth through a process of economic and social development that is equitable and just.

"As an open society and an open economy we will have to engage the world at all levels and in all spheres. It is with this understanding that we seek a larger role for ourselves in global institutions and would like to help strengthen and broad base multilateral institutions."

Manmohan Singh was delivering the keynote speech at the conference, organised to discuss pressing issues and encourage interactions between leaders and opinion makers. Among those attending are former British prime minister John Major, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, Pakistani politician and former cricket captain Imran Khan, Hans Blix, former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, leading Indian ministers, politicians, industrialists and policy analysts.

The prime minister said India was committed to work with the international community to make the world a safer place.

"As a responsible nuclear power we are firmly committed to nuclear non-proliferation and will cooperate with the world community to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and deal with the threat of terrorism," he asserted.

India would pursue energy security within a cooperative framework working with other countries to ensure the security of oil supplies, of pipelines and sea-lanes of communication.

At the same time, it would work with the international community in tackling other global threats such as AIDS.

Manmohan Singh also underscored the need for closer ties within the subcontinent.

"I would like to see closer and wider economic engagement between India and our Asian neighbourhood. I would like our business leaders to explore the full potential of the creation of an Asian Economic Community," he said.

"We want a neighbourhood of peace and shared prosperity in which people, goods and services can travel with ease across borders."

Manmohan Singh sought wider and deeper economic ties with China, Japan and the member states of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Central Asian Republics and nations in West Asia and Africa.

He also pledged to continue to strengthen the "wide-ranging and many-sided relationship" with the US, Europe and Russia.

Underscoring the importance of strengthening regional organisations, he remarked: "It is in our shared interest to wage a joint struggle against poverty and ignorance and disease which still afflict millions and millions of people in this subcontinent."

The prime minister said despite political differences in priorities and perceptions, there had been an evolving consensus on foreign and external economic policies.

"Our government would like to give the highest priority to an acceleration of the rate of economic growth through a process of economic and social development that is equitable and just," he said.

"While there are bound to be party political differences in priorities and in perceptions in a democracy, it must be recognized that there has been an element of continuity, mirroring an evolving consensus, on many aspects of our foreign and external economic policies.

"Suffice it for me to say that in the heat and dust of our domestic debates on foreign and external economic policies we should not lose sight of the fact of this emerging consensus on our political and economic interaction with the world."

The prime minister devoted much of his address to the theme of plurality and secularism, slamming the concept of the "clash of civilisation" as a narrow and archaic worldview that went against the grain of Indian civilisation.

He mooted a dialogue between nations on "the confluence of civilisations" to deal with the challenge of globalisation and the threat of terrorism.

The prime minister said by rejecting the politics of exclusion and voting in favour of the values of secularism and pluralism, Indians had made the country proud.

Stating that India's unique contribution to the world has been the notion of the many-sidedness and the constant and continuing discovery of truth, he said: "Admittedly, there are those even among us who do not share this syncretic view of India. They not only believe in the clash of civilizations but wish to encourage it. They do not, indeed cannot, represent the true spirit of our ancient civilisation."

Source: IANS
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