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Indian Government gives itself a pat on its back

Feb 03, 2013

Minister for External Affairs, Salman Khurshid, said at TERI's global meet that India may not be in a position to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, but the foundations have been laid by the government to achieve these goals.

Today India has the best model on providing free education and health services to its people. In the next year the country will have a full fledged model that will ensure highly nourished food at a very low cost to almost 65 per cent of its population, which will be one of the defining moments in our democracy”, said Salman Khurshid, Minister for External Affairs, Government of India. While speaking at the valedictory session at the 13th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS), organised by the Delhi-based TERI, the minister said that India may not be in a position to meet the MDGs by 2015, but the foundations that are laid by the government in achieving these goals are very strong which has put India in a position to achieve sustainable development.

Calling 2012 as a landmark year for sustainable development, Khurshid pointed out that 2012 experienced some major successes in achieving sustainable development. “2012 marked the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit which led to adoption of a significant document, 'The Future We Want'. Moreover, India hosted the COP on Biodiversity in Hyderabad, in which a decision to double the finances on protection of biodiversity was taken by the government”, he added.

Dwelling on building up of successful partnerships between the developed and developing countries, the minister emphasised that since the world can be attributed as a family, short term difficulties between the countries should not cause a roadblock to achieve bigger objectives. He said: “Technology transfer between the countries is a key to solve many issues pertaining to sustainable development which can be achieved by building genuine partnerships. This is a two-way process and India too is in a position to transfer some of the important technological ideas.”

The minister emphasised that increase in migration is building a burden on the society, leading to increase in poverty rates. “The government today is unable to provide homes to the vulnerable sections and the gap between the rich and poor is continuously increasing.” He added the other major challenge that India faces is to provide access to clean energy to all its citizens.

In his opening remarks, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Government of India, pointed out that often economists are regarded as bad guys in the sustainability debate but they too recognise the importance of achieving sustainable development. He too praised India’s plans to achieve green growth. He highlighted that the 11th Plan focused on achieving inclusive growth, whereas sustainability is the dominant description in the current 12th Plan. “In India we have not stuck the word sustainable development in our main agenda, but continuous steps are taken to achieve sustainability at the ground level.”

Denouncing the efforts made at the international front to achieve sustainable development, the minister argued that regression and not progression is taking place globally. “For 10 years now there just have been talks rather than anything else. We need sharing of burdens and responsibilities that will move the system in a particular direction”, he said. Ahluwalia added that the idea of ‘paying for sustainability’ should be included in every conference, so that it does not just remain as a debating issue.

The minister stated that subsidising prices; bringing out regulations, specially technological reforms; and change in attitude of the people are the three basic methodologies that can be implied to achieve sustainable growth. “Solutions for 90 per cent problems of sustainability can be addressed through technological reforms. But above all it is the mindset of the people, specially the young generation, that needs to be changed so as to achieve green growth”, he added.

Agreeing with Ahluwalia, Dr RK Pachauri, Director-General, TERI, said that next year’s DSDS will have an entire stream of students from around the world. “If you want to bring about a change and want that the message should be successfully implemented, it is always important o involve students”, noted Pachauri.

Appreciating the DSDS, Khurshid said that the summit has become a landmark of Delhi and provides a platform for global leaders to discuss and debate about issues related to environment. “Earth as a giver of life is a source of happiness and we, its progeny, has a responsibility to look after it so that it can sustain us in future”, Khurshid said, bringing the three-day long and intense global debate to a close.

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