Manmohan Singh: Poverty has to be top priority

Written by Press Trust of India | United Nations | Updated: Sep 30 2013, 04:45am hrs
New Delhi
With over a billion people living in abject poverty globally, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today emphasised the need for "inclusive growth" and said poverty alleviation should be a top priority for the international community.

"The problems of over a billion people living in abject poverty around the world need to be attacked more directly," Manmohan Singh said in his address to the UN General Assembly.

Poverty remains a major political and economic challenge and its eradication requires special attention and a new thrust, Manmohan Singh said.

"This priority should anchor the post-2015 Development Agenda, which should be shaped by the member states so that it enjoys the broadest possible support and acceptance," Singh told the international leaders at the UN headquarters in New York.

He said the issues of peace, security, human rights and governance are important and need to be addressed.

"But we will fall short of realising an ambitious post- 2015 development agenda if we focus merely on governance issues at the cost of robust economic growth," Manmohan Singh noted.

"This agenda should not be merely about reprioritising domestic spending, but also about fostering genuine international partnership between the developing and developed countries to bring about change," Manmohan Singh said.

Stressing that countries need the policy space necessary to set their own domestic priorities, Singh said no one knows the condition of developing countries better than the developing countries themselves.

"It is, therefore, important that the UN set clear and concise goals and provide practical and well-defined means of implementation, including adequate flow of resources and transfer of technology, taking the views of developing countries fully into account," Manmohan Singh said.

Manmohan Singh said a meaningful post-2015 agenda must place equally high priority on food and nutrition, health, education, infrastructure, water, sanitation, energy and discrimination against women.

"Especially critical is women's equal access to economic opportunities, and that they do not become victims of violence or targets of prejudice," Manmohan Singh said.

Informing the august gathering of international leaders, Singh said India promotes inclusive development in multiple ways.

"Legislation has broadened access to education and secured rural livelihoods. We are now building the world's largest programme for food security. Digital technology is being harnessed to improve the delivery of public services and benefits to the people," he said.

Proud of partnerships with developing countries, Manmohan Singh said using its modest resources, India has built strong ties with Africa and the Least Developed Countries.

New Delhi, he said, is committed to building 100 institutions in Africa, have offered capacity building support including thousands of scholarships and made available concessional assistance of over USD 9.5 billion.

"India and Africa are engaging through the India-Africa Forum Summit process. We also look forward to participating actively in the 3rd Conference on the Small Island Developing States in Samoa in 2014 and contributing to its outcome," Manmohan Singh said.

Describing climate change as one of the defining challenges, Manmohan Singh said: "We must summon the necessary political will for crafting a robust global response to climate change on the basis of equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities."