New Delhi: Inclusive growth should not remain a mere slogan and the benefits of economic prosperity must reach all sections of the society, President Pranab Mukherjee said today.
He also expressed confidence that the country's economic growth would bounce back to 8-9 per cent.
"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," Mukherjee said at the CII-ITC sustainability awards 2012 presentation ceremony here.
The current poverty ratio of around 30 per cent and illiteracy rate of 26 per cent in the country, he said, "is simply not acceptable".
"A decisive reduction in poverty will be possible only if there is an expansion in economic opportunities for all sections of the society. Inclusive growth should not be a mere slogan but a fundamental driving force for sustainable development," Mukherjee added.
The President also exuded confidence of India's economy bouncing back to 8-9 per cent, overcoming multiple challenges including the slowdown in the global economy.
"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," Mukherjee said.
Attributing India's slow pace of economic growth to the "slowdown in the global economy and other factors," Mukherjee said the GDP growth rate 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.
Mukherjee said: "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."
He also said that higher economic growth would entail more energy consumption and there is a need for vigorously pursuing policies that promote energy efficiency.
"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. We must vigorously pursue policies that promote energy efficiency," the President said.
India is the fourth biggest consumer of energy in the world, after the US, 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.
"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 3,000 crore," Mukherjee said.
He asked the private sector to play a major role in pursuing sustainable development and ushering in an era of green energy and sustainability.
The President also called upon industry captains to take into account the concerns of the society and the environment while creating value for their businesses.
"I appeal to the Indian Industry to be part of this sustainability movement and participate in true nation- building," he said.
Tata Steel, Steel Authority of India, Rashtriya Ispat, Tata Chemicals, Reliance Industries, ONGC, TVS Motors and Yes Bank, among others, bagged the CII-ITC Sustainability Awards, 2012 under different categories.
The President handed over the awards to the company representatives.