25 Apr 2002
By Our Special Correspondent
NEW DELHI Apr. 26. The Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, today warned against economic growth breeding ``pernicious fundamentalism'' and stressed that it should take place in an all-inclusive social framework.
In a hard-hitting address at the annual conference of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), she said economic policy could not be seen in a social vacuum and there could be no growth in the absence of social cohesion and harmony. ``An India whose secular moorings and foundations are being systematically destroyed cannot flourish.''
On the ``continuing trauma in Gujarat'', Ms. Gandhi said the State was among India's most urbanised and industrialised regions apart from being the country's most globalised society. In the 1990s, its economic growth rate was on par with that of the East Asian tigers. ``It is a tragedy that growing economic success is being accompanied by social discord. But it is a colossal tragedy that economic globalisation is being accompanied by communal polarisation.''
She noted that what happened in the State would deter not just foreign investors or hurt the country internationally, but will impact on the Indian industry itself. ``It has, most importantly, lowered us in our own eyes,'' she said.
Recalling the State's great past, she said the land of the Father of the Nation, the apostle of ahimsa, the champion of communal harmony, was bleeding, the land of Sardar Patel was witnessing a collapse in governance and the land of dynamic private enterprise had fallen prey to the worst form of bigotry.
Ms. Gandhi who was speaking on ``Governance: the Congress way'', said her party wanted economic growth in all regions of the country. ``But do we want this economic growth to breed a pernicious fundamentalism,'' she asked.
Seeking to make a clear distinction on the secular ethos between the Congress and other parties, she said the founding fathers had decisively rejected the concept of some who believed that governance in India must be based on the slogan of ``one nation, one culture, one people''.
She said it was in industry's own self interest to reflect the country's social diversity. This was the only way to make globalisation locally meaningful. ``An economy cannot be divorced from its larger societal reality. Equally, economics cannot be seen independent of its political context.''