Kalam all praise for Gujarat’s agriculture growth

Basti (Uttar Pradesh), Feb 11 (IANS) Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was here Friday all praise for the high economic growth that Gujarat has achieved in the past six years.

‘Gujarat registered a sustained agricultural growth of 7 to 9 percent over the past six years — far ahead of the country’s national average growth of just about 2.5 to 3 percent,’ Kalam said at a farmers meet organised in this Uttar Pradesh town under the auspices of Raja Lakshmeshwar Singh Society for Education, Welfare and Awareness in memory of the erstwhile ruler of the princely state of Basti.

Kalam said researchers at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad told him that ‘unparalleled growth rate was achieved by the Gujarat government through schemes under public-private partnership and initiation of several innovative programmes’.

Describing the measures undertaken by the Gujarat government as unique, he said: ‘Firstly, they created a dedicated power grid for agriculture to ensure uninterrupted 24-hour supply to the rural areas where revolutionary steps were taken to improve upon the irrigations systems whereby 20,000 hectares of unirrigated land was turned into a rich agricultural area.

‘The message I wish to convey is that when there is committed leadership with a vision and able to bring all the stakeholders together… the productivity increase in food production can be achieved,’ he said.

Kalam earlier felicitated achievers from this region who had chosen to give up their professional careers to return to their roots and contribute towards making a difference in their homeland.

Answering questions at an interactive session later, Kalam suggested the best way to rid the country of corruption was to motivate young children to launch a movement by curbing their own parents from indulging in corrupt practices.’

Besides farmers, the event was attended by people from different walks of life including teachers, lawyers and a large number of girl students from a local institution started by Abdul Hakim to promote literacy among women in this badly neglected and poverty-ridden part of eastern Uttar Pradesh. Hakim was among those felicitated.

Among the others awarded by Kalam were Ashutosh Pal, who left a cushy life in the US to take up fisheries in his village in Basti district, and Deependra Singh, who made a success story by setting up the first ethnic resort in Lord Buddha’s land Kapilavastu.

Raja Ram Chaudhary was given the award posthumously for his contribution to the empowerment of farmers.