Indian democracy, social inclusion being challenged before polls: Sam Pitroda
Addressing The Growth Net 2014, Sam Pitroda, Adviser to the Indian Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations, asserted social inclusion and freedom of speech were 'being challenged' ahead of the upcoming polls.
"The upcoming elections are India's most important polls in recent history. However, the basic ideas of India, democratic values, freedom of speech and social inclusion, are being challenged. India has to be built through social inclusion, and not by alienating one group of people. We cannot have growing inequality all the time," Pitroda said, while obliquely referring to political opponents.
Lauding the government's performance over the last decade, Pitroda asserted, "Ahead of elections, the issue of corruption sells. Misinformation sells. People are ignorant if they think nothing has been done by the government. We have achieved a lot in the last ten years. In 2004, only 10 per cent youth went to colleges. Today, we have doubled the number to 20 per cent. Polio has been eradicated. We are working towards democratising knowledge, since poverty has a lot to do with poverty of information."
Pitroda further conceded, "We have made big mistakes, but some of us are unwilling to accept this. We haven't communicated well, and have gone back on some of our promises. India should grow slower, but carry everyone forward."
"The fact that freedom of speech and the freedom of movement is now being questioned in India is worrisome,"Pitroda further said in an apparent reference to the acts of violence committed by the Sri Ram Sena which is led by Pramod Muthalik, and the banning of a book allegedly criticising Hindus authored by American Indologist Wendy Doniger (The Hindus - An Alternative History)
Responding to a query on China's development model, Pitroda opined, "India's diversity is given. We cannot ignore social inclusion. India would rather have development and freedom than high GDP and growth. India should not be judged by GDP."
He also said that businesses in India need continuity and clarity, besides communication, and added that there was an urgent need to shift the focus away from dispartiesm, and focus on excellence and equity.
As far as solutions were concerned, Pitroda said more reforms were needed in all sectors, and this required both courage and political will. There was also a need for promoting the use of e-governance to ensure transparency and accountability in existing systems.
Pitroda vouched for the need for electronics into mainstream management, besides social transformations, reduction in the use of cash in the system to end corruption, and promote the entrepreneurial spirit, young talent and new tools.
Ronnie Chan, Ronnie Chan, Chairman, HangLung Properties Ltd., Hong Kong, while agreeing with some of the points raised by Pitroda, voiced scepticism about how India would be able to achieve its growth-linked goals given the huge and wide contradictions that it has to battle with.
Nearly 100 speakers from 25 countries have converged at The Growth Net 2014 to discuss global economic imperatives. The key issues being raised in the meeting include global security environment, energy and water challenges; common global priorities; innovations and new technologies; education and healthcare; and foreign investment opportunities.
(Posted on 26-03-2014)