Growth cannot be monopoly of the privileged: President

New Delhi, Jan 25 (IANS) India must ensure that its economic growth does not become the "monopoly of the privileged" but instead is used to combat the "evil of hunger, deprivation and marginal subsistence" among the growing population, President Pranab Mukherjee said Friday.

He also cautioned against problems of a "market-dependent economy" and underlined that statistics only meant nothing to those who did not benefit from them, citing the situation in Maoist insurgency-affected areas.

"We must ensure that the fruits of economic growth do not become the monopoly of the privileged at the peak of a pyramid," said Mukherjee, delivering his first address to the nation on the eve of the 64th Republic Day.

"The primary purpose of wealth creation must be to drive out the evil of hunger, deprivation and marginal subsistence from the base of our expanding population," he said.

Mukherjee, a finance minister prior to his elevation, said India had come a long way from 1947, when its first budget had revenue of just over Rs.171 crore. "The resource base of the union government today is an ocean compared to that drop," he said.

Noting that 2012 has been a testing time as India moves ahead on the path of economic reforms, the president said: "We must remain alive to the persisting problems of market-dependent economies."

"Many rich nations are now trapped by a culture of entitlement without social obligations; we must avoid this trap. The results of our policies should be seen in our villages, farms and factories, schools and hospitals," he said.

Further the president said that statistics meant nothing to those who do not benefit from them and asked the government to address the problem of Maoism without delay.

"We must act immediately, otherwise the current pockets of conflict, often described as Naxalite violence, could acquire far more dangerous imensions," he said.

The president stressed more investment in education as India can double its growth rate by turning disadvantaged groups into multiple engines of economic development.

"We must invest in better and greater education. Education is the ladder that can help those at the bottom to rise to the pinnacles of professional and social status," he said.

"Education is the mantra that can transform our economic fortunes and eliminate the gaps that have made our society unequal," he said, adding that so far, it has not reached to "those most in need of this ladder" to the desired extent.

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