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Mr. P.Chidambaram – April 1st, 2002

Mr. P.Chidambaram- ex- Central Minister and leader of Congress Jananayaga Peravai was in Singapore to address the conference “Tamil in the International arena” organized by the National University of Singapore during the 1st week of January 2002. It was a great honor meeting him. Mr. P.Chidambaram needs no introduction. He is a well known politician, able lawyer, outstanding economist, a good writer and an eloquent speaker. I was most impressed with the clarity of his ideas and the way he delivered it.

Excerpts from the interview:

1. Despite abundant resources, India still remains a developing country. What is the reason?

If India has a stable Government sewing sound economic policies and implementing them with determination, it is possible to reduce the percentage of people living in poverty in India. Where we fail is because we don’t have clarity about policies and even if we adopt right policies we fail miserably in implementation. This is the problem of the quality of governance and unless the quality of Governance improves in India it is not possible to make rapid progress.

2. Where do you see India’s economy in ten years time?

If we grow only by 5% a year, then I am afraid we will be exactly where we are today. With that kind of growth we will be able to maintain the present economic situation. If we grow at say over 71/2 to 8% a year then I think we will see a dramatic change in India in 10 years time. It is a function of growth. Equally other human development indicators like literacy, life expectancy, mortality rates, infant mortality rates all will improve only when we have high growth and if we have only a growth of 5 or 51/2% a year, these indicators also will not show a marked improvement and they will remain where they are.

3. At What age did you develop interest in politics?

I have always been interested in politics and aware of what is happening in the country. When I came back to practice law, I joined the congress party and so there is nothing dramatic about my entry into politics. Large number of young people did join one or other political party at that time. I joined the congress party.

4. Whom do you attribute your success to……

I don’t attribute my success to anyone. I took the opportunities that came my way. I did what I thought was right. When I found something to be wrong I refused to be part of it. As an Internal Security Minister, Commerce Minister, Finance Minister, I did exactly what I thought was right. No body could force me to do things which I did not believe in. That is perhaps why I still maintain a low profile in politics. I would not do which I do not believe in.

5. Who is your role model?

There are number of people. Jawaharlal Nehru for his great humanity, John Kennedy for his drive and idealism,Lee Kwan Yew for his single minded determination to make Singapore a great country, Deng xia peng for changing China in 10 years. There are a number of people who have done remarkable things in their respective countries and I think it is possible to learn valuable lessons from their lives.

6. Your advise to the youngsters in India………….

Where ever you are you must learn to love your country and people. In today’s world loving ones country and one’s people does not mean loving one’s culture, language or one’s religion. Poverty is the biggest stigma, biggest stain, biggest scar on the face of earth. If you really love ones country and love your people you must resolve to wipe out poverty. As long as there is a sea of poverty around you can not pretend that you are leading a life of dignity. It is poverty that diminishes every one. If you see people answering calls of nature on road, if you see children searching for food in the dust bins, if you see street children, if you see slums all these poverty diminishes one. It is very difficult to say that you lead a life of dignity when there is so much poverty around you. So one must work to remove poverty. Poverty could only be removed by creating wealth and sharing wealth. This is why country which are opened to competitive societies have succeeded in removing poverty. Countries which are closed regulated and controlled societies have not succeeded in removing poverty. So one must understand the causes of the poverty and one must work to remove the causes of poverty.

Thank You Mr.P.Chidambaram

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