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Democracy India's strength regardless of Chinese model: Bhagwati

Thursday December 02, 2010 07:51:03 PM, IANS

New Delhi: Democracy is India's greatest strength and the world should view this system as a development-enabler than as an impediment, especially when comparisons are made with a country like China, noted economist Jagdish Bhagwati said here Thursday.

"In relation to China, it is an inevitable comparison we've had for decades, ever since we began developing. The two countries have always been compared. Our democracy is an enormous advantage. In fact, more than that. It is conducive to development," he said.

"Our democracy has also been a source of immense gratification, not just to elites, but also to the common man," Bhagwati said in the Central Hall of Parliament, delivering the 3rd Hiren Mukerjee Memorial Annual Parliamentary Lecture.

"Democracy gives the poor and the underprivileged instant affirmation of what Americans call their 'personhood' -- a sense of equality with the castes and classes above you in a strongly hierarchical society," he said.

"I have, therefore, argued democracy matters more to the poor than to the rich," added the soft-spoke professor and recipient of Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian award, and Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, conferred on eminent people of Indian origin.

The 76-year-old professor who was educated at Cambridge and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said he also disagreed with critics that reforms in India had ignored the poor and had even bypassed them.

"Growth has led to greater revenues so that we are finally able to finance significantly more spending on health and education for the poor and the underprivileged," he said, adding that was the main idea of a planned economy in India since 1951.

Among those present were Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, senior BJP leader L.K. Advani and former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee.

"Jagdish and Padma (his wife) are like members of my family," Manmohan Singh said, recollecting his friendship and association with the neoclassical economist and expert on globalosation and international economics and trade for over 55 years.


 

 

 

 

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