Arun Jaitley concedes ‘social strife’ can deflect developmental agenda


Calling India a “haven of safety and security” despite past problems in Punjab and Kashmir, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today cautioned that any ‘social strife’ in the name of caste and religion can stir emotions and deflect the country from its developmental agenda.

“We saw insurgency in Punjab, in Kashmir and North-East, but fortunately if we see rest of the world, we are still haven of safety and security,” he said.

Delivering the first Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Memorial Lecture at India Islamic Cultural Centre here, Jaitley also said the resources need to be spent on poverty elimination and infrastructure development to become a developed society, rather than “lopsided expenditure only on the security”.

“The faster we become a safer… insurgency-free society, the better it is for us. Any form of social strife, I think in a race to become a developed society, we have to avoid…,” he said.

Terming these as policy diversions, Jaitley said “caste, language, religion, water, these are capable of throwing up emotions, which can actually deflect from a developmental agenda and strife can create, can prove very costly for society”.

“… our ability and maturity to distance ourselves from these issues, put a closure to these issues and therefore get rid of these kinds of diversions, will also reflect on the kind of maturity our society itself have,” the minister added.

The statement comes against the backdrop of incidents of attacks on dalits in different parts of the country and recent incidents of violence in Kashmir.

He also stressed that India also needs credible politics so that “we can have credible policy”.

“And for the purposes of credible politics, we have to realise the strength of democracy, where the power of democracy, Parliament, governments, political party is huge.

Therefore, the best in the system needs to get into that activity,” he said.