Need to balance growth and sustainability: Jairam Ramesh



New Delhi: India needs to be obsessed with high economic growth but should also try to marry it with sustainable development, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said here on Thursday.

"India needs to be obsessed with high economic growth as we have to address the issue of inclusive development," Ramesh said at an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development meet here.

He said India needed eight percent growth since the country had to provide jobs to 100 million people who would enter the workforce in the next decade.

Observing that there has been an overwhelming consensus on faster growth in the past few years, Ramesh said India could not moderate growth to address the issue of sustainability.

"We need a balance of both," he said.

According to the minister, India is still groping to find institutional mechanisms to ensure sustainability in development while protecting vital ecological resources like water, forests and land and needs to break out of the traditional system of regulation.

Ramesh said the challenge before the government would be to demonstrate that sustainability would take along development process and not be a drag on economic growth.

He agreed that the government's sustainability efforts had not succeeded much.

"We have ecological poverty in many parts of the country where water bodies and forest resources have depleted... We have failed to link sustainability with public health and livelihood issues," said Ramesh.

The solution, he said, was to build community-based institutions as an alternative to the heavy hand of the government and market forces.

Indicating that the country was still a few years away from having exact measurements of sustainability requirements, Ramesh hoped the government would have a fix in five years.

"We hope to have a national-level measurement in five years," said Ramesh.

While batting for high economic growth, the minister agreed that there were imbalances in the strategy related to growth in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors.

"We're addressing them," he said.

Ramesh said the government was making difficult choices by ensuring protection of forests, wastelands and tribal habitations while pursuing development.

IANS