Don’t neglect poor: President

August 15, 2014 - 12:00:00 am

New Delhi: Emphasising that the poor “cannot and will not wait for another generation” for betterment in their lives, President Pranab Mukherjee said yesterday that the focus of government’s policies needs to move from alleviation of poverty to elimination, which has a time-defined objective.

In an address to the nation on the eve of the country’s 68th Independence Day, the president also said that though India’s economy has been subdued at below 5 percent in the last two years, he could “sense renewed vigour and optimism in the air”.

In his speech, his first under the Narendra Modi government, President Mukherjee stressed on a sound educational system, which he said must also inculcate “the core civilisational values of love for motherland; compassion for all; tolerance for pluralism; respect for women” and other values. The president said the “decisive challenge of our times is to end the curse of poverty. The focus of our policies now has to move from alleviation of poverty to elimination of poverty. The difference is not mere semantics: alleviation is a process; elimination is a time-defined objective”.

He remarked that while in the past six decades the ratio of poverty had declined from over 60 percent to less than 30 percent, “even then, nearly one-third of our population still lives below the poverty line.

“Poverty is not a mere statistic. Poverty has a face, which becomes unbearable when it scars the visage of a child. The poor cannot, and will not, wait for yet another generation to see the very essentials of life — food, shelter, education and employment — being denied to them. “The benefits from economic development must percolate down to the poorest of the poor,” he said.

Touching on the nation’s

economy, the president said in the past decade India’s economy grew at an average rate of 7.6 percent per year.