United Nations: Though India still has to travel a long distance to eradicate poverty, it is pursuing various "inclusive growth" schemes which have been designed to ensure that all sections of society benefit from them, Foreign Minister SM Krishna has said.
"We need to, however, be cognisant that the largest concentration of poor in the world continues to remain in India and South Asia," Krishna said at the closing session of
the three-day Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) summit here yesterday.
Though India still has to travel "a long distance to put poverty behind us," the country should not be "underestimated," he said.
Krishna asserted that New Delhi was pursuing schemes of "inclusive growth" so that the fruits of growth reach everyone.
"This, indeed, is the main objective of India`s ambitious socio-economic development programmes," he said.
The summit was convened to assess where the world stands in terms of achieving the eight social and economic targets by 2015.
These MDGs include eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, and ensuring environmental
On the issue of climate change and rain-fed agriculture, Krishna described how changing weather patterns have aggravated the situation in traditionally drought and flood-
prone regions in the country.
"Our national action plan on climate change will increase the share of clean and renewable energy in our energy mix, increase energy efficiency across the economy and expand our forest cover," the minister said.
Urging the international community to act quickly, Krishna recalled Mahatma Gandhi`s words: "A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their
mission can alter the course of history."
On the issue of women and children`s health, the minister acknowledged that India faced "enormous challenges" in this area and said the government`s National Rural Health Mission was aimed at providing health care in the rural areas, which is accessible, affordable, accountable, effective and reliable.
The UN report, released earlier this year, found India doing badly on maternal and child health as well as sanitation, but on poverty it said that India had made significant progress and some 188 million people in the country would be out of poverty by 2015.
Another UN report, released last week, found that although India`s maternal mortality ratio came down from 570 deaths per 1,00,000 live births to 230 in 2008, India still
had the highest rates of maternal deaths in the world with at least 63,000 such deaths taking place in 2008 alone.
On the sanitation front, a study released last year by the WHO and UNICEF found that India had the largest number of persons that defecate in the open -- 665 million.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, meanwhile, launched a USD 40 billion global health initiative that focuses on women and children.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton along with philanthropist Melinda Gates announced a five-year public-private global alliance on schemes like family planning, skilled birth attendance and increasing the numbers of women and newborns receiving quality post-natal care by 2015.
The alliance includes the US Agency for International Development (USAID), UK Department for International Development (DFID), Australian Agency for International
Development (AusAID), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.