In an interview to Al Jazeera English TV news channel, Union external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee said poverty, deprivation and lack of development in India would be attacked frontally. He also reiterated India’s demands that Pakistan act upon evidence India has provided on the Mumbai terror attacks in November. Edited excerpts:
Is there any comparison on whether India has changed after the Mumbai attacks, as the US did after 9/11?
It has rudely shocked the Indian people. India is one of the worst victims of terrorism for almost two decades, but this attack in many respects was unprecedented.
In what way is it different?
...the depth...of the sense of outrage is enormous all over India and not merely in Mumbai.
India claims Pakistan is not doing enough to catch those responsible for the attack. Is it that they are not doing enough or can’t do enough?
Yes, one way you can make a differentiation that they are deliberately doing or that they are incapable of doing, but as far as India is concerned, the net impact is the same... whether somebody is capable or not capable, the impact is that the perpetrators of the terror attack...are launching terror attacks from the territory of Pakistan.
India’s lobby power in the US seems to have increased a lot. Some people are saying it’s almost comparable to the Israeli lobby that exists. Is that a fair assessment?
I...(do not agree) with that type of assessment but surely I would agree that our relationship between India and the US has increased substantially...
How do you see India economically in the coming years, looking at what’s going on?
Well, you know, for the last few years we are having a steady economic growth and our annual average GDP growth was 9%. In fact, it was the second highest growth in the world economy, but as our economy is linked with global developments, as every country is linked today with other countries...we cannot insulate ourselves totally to the global developments. And, therefore, the (global) financial crisis will have some impact on our economy and is already felt in that sense. This year our projected growth has come down from 9% to around 7%.
But at the same time, our economy is not going be affected as adversely as many other countries because our economy is directed substantially till today towards domestic demand and domestic expenditure and, therefore, we are insulated to that extent. Because India is a developing country, we...(will) have rapid growth.
Of course, India’s growth is phenomenal, but the disparity is still huge between the rich and the poor. To what extent can you see some sort of equality emerging?
We no longer believe in the trickle-down theory. We do believe that poverty, deprivation (and) lack of development (are) to be attacked frontally. Therefore, the growth strategy that we are contemplating is of inclusive growth. State intervention is more effective. Investments from the state sectors are much more compared to other sectors. That is the developmental strategy we have and it is paying good dividends.
Al Jazeera will air the interview at 0530 and 1630 GMT (11am and 10pm IST) today. It can also be watched on www.aljazeera.net/english