Mrs Sonia Gandhi
President of the Indian National Congress
Event: Lives in the Balance 2005
New Delhi India, April 2005
Such interactions as yours are of great benefit to health planners as they monitor progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations. I do wish I could have been with you participating in the discussions that have taken place because the subject of mother and child care is not only very close to my own heart personally, but it is also very much a matter of the highest priority for our government.
While we believe that economic growth is important and must accelerate our country’s social sector challenges it will demand more vigorous and more sustained public sector intervention. Our government, the UPA government, is committed to increasing public investment substantially in elementary education, health and family welfare, nutrition, woman and child development, and water supply and sanitation. These commitments are basic to our approach to development and have been reflected quite significantly in the budget of 2005/2006.
Of course, it is not enough to show dramatic increase in public expenditure in just one year. The increases have to be continued over the next decade at least, and I am confident that this will indeed be the case. Let us always remind ourselves that the very essence of economic reforms is to sustain increasing levels of public investment in social infrastructure and in social security and welfare. Increasing public expenditures, however, is only one part of the strategy. It has to be accompanied by innovations in the management of delivery systems. For us, these innovations focus a great deal on making local self-government and institutions responsible for the implementation of health, family welfare and related problems.