Mumbai: Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday said that the government will pass the Right to Food law to promote inclusive growth, a concept that has been pursued by the Congress since Independence.
“We are going to pass the Right to Food Act,” the minister said.
Noting that inclusive growth had always been on the agenda of the Congress, Mukherjee recalled that earlier slogans like “grow more food” and “garibi hatao” (eradicate poverty) were aimed at achieving the same objective.
The Congress, in its manifesto for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, promised to enact the Right to Food law to provide 25kg rice or wheat at Rs3 per kg every month to families living below the poverty line.
The Centre, Mukherjee noted, was implementing the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and Right to Education Act to provide jobs and education to people through legislation.
Growth goals: Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee says the country would have to produce more food to make growth all-encompassing. Indranil Bhoumik/Mint
The minister, however, emphasized that to make growth all-encompassing, the country would have to produce more food and industry more manufactured goods.
Mukherjee said the rapid economic growth since liberalization had led to a rise in the tax-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio. It was only because of the increase that former finance minister P. Chidambaram had managed to provide Rs71,000 crore in debt relief to farmers.
“As finance minister about a quarter century ago, I could not give Rs1,000 relief to farmers...because I did not have the capacity,” he said.
He further said that with the implementation of the programmes of the government, it would be able to achieve the goals of inclusive growth.
The concept of inclusive growth was not new, although the nomenclature has changed over the years, he said, adding, “from the beginning of our development, we accepted some sort of concept of inclusive growth.”