New Delhi, Jan 14 : Asserting that ''inclusive growth'' should not be a mere slogan but a fundamental driving force for sustainable development, President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said a decisive reduction in poverty will be possible only if there is an expansion in economic opportunities for all sections of the society.
Presenting the CII-ITC Sustainability Awards 2012 here at Vigyan Bhavan, President Mukherjee said: "The economic prosperity that our country has experienced over the last few decades will mean nothing if, on account of poverty, a significant percentage of our population is not able to participate in its development. A poverty ratio of around 30 per cent and illiteracy rate of 26 per cent in our country is simply not acceptable."
Stating that India is today the third largest economy in the world on purchasing power parity basis, President Mukherjee said: " It is also the second fastest growing economy, with its growth rate second only to China. Over the last few decades, our economy has shown a capacity to grow faster."
"The average annual growth rate of 5.5 per cent during the Ninth Five Year Plan period increased to 7.7 per cent and 7.9 per cent during the Tenth and Eleventh Plan periods respectively. In six out of the last nine years, the growth rate of our economy had exceeded 8 per cent," he added.
President Mukherjee said ''due to the slowdown in the global economy and other factors, the growth rate has declined, from 8.4 per cent in 2010-11 to 6.5 per cent in 2011-12, and further to 5.4 per cent in the first half of 2012-13''.
" On several occasions in the past, our economy has demonstrated its capacity to grow at a healthy rate despite disturbances in the global economy and external sector. I hope that we would be successful in overcoming the challenge of reversing this short term deceleration and bring our economy back to the growth levels of 8 to 9 per cent per year," he added.
President Mukherjee said India is the fourth biggest consumer of energy in the world, after the USA, China and Russia.
"Energy Intensity, a measure of energy efficiency of an economy that indicates the cost of converting energy into GDP, is higher for India than developed nations such as the UK, Germany, Japan and the USA. Thus, the high economic growth rate of above 8 per cent per annum that we have envisaged for our country in the next five years could entail significant consumption of energy," President Mukherjee said.
"We must vigorously pursue policies that promote energy efficiency. During the Eleventh Plan period, policies to reduce energy have led to savings equivalent to 10,836 MW of avoided power generation, which in monetary terms, has resulted in annual savings of about Rs. 3000 crore," he added.
Asserting that much more needs to be done as our journey towards pursuing sustainable development has only begun, President Mukherjee said: "I expect the private sector to play a major role towards ushering an era of green energy and sustainability."
Congratulating the award winners, President Mukherjee advised them to think, create, and deliver while taking care of our future generations.
He said what is necessary for our Industry is a belief that the compulsion of creating value for a business cannot be separated from our concern for society and environment.
President Mukherjee also appealed to the Indian Industry to be part of the sustainability movement and participate in true nation building. (ANI)