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Rural development and poverty alleviation synonymous with national development: Pranab Mukherjee
Inaugurating the nineteenth meeting of the Governing Council of the Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP) in Delhi on September 30, the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee in his address said that despite Asia-Pacific being one of the fastest growing regions in the world, it is still beset with poverty and backwardness.

However, Mukherjee hoped that the current meeting will dwell on issues of rural development and poverty alleviation in the perspective of challenges being faced by the member countries.

According a press release of President's Secretariat, Mukherjee said, "Sustainable development requires us to build capacity of the rural population, particularly the poor and marginalized. Rural areas are important for any intervention in food security, education, skill development, employment, technology dissemination, health and nutrition, housing, drinking water and sanitation. For all of us in the Asia-Pacific region and for many in the world, rural development and poverty alleviation have become synonymous with national development."

According to Mukherjee, land is increasingly becoming a scarce resource, has to be managed efficiently. "Principles of community empowerment have to be adopted to increase the productivity of land, particularly rain-fed, degraded and waste lands. Climate change, energy security and environmental degradation have to be given priority in development initiatives. Judicious resource management has to be ensured even while putting people first," he added.

Mukherjee stressed the need for good governance practices and women empowerment measures are required to make these bodies viable instruments of rural transformation. According to him, it would be appropriate to establish self-help groups as effective institutions of the rural poor to enable them to increase household income through sustainable livelihood enhancements, increased productive capacity, generation of durable assets, assimilation of new technologies in production and marketing, skill development and improved access to financial services.

"I urge open exchange of views and experiences in this Governing Council meeting. I am most certain of the conclusions and decisions taken here to help us prepare better for the challenges of tomorrow," said Mukherjee while declaring the meet open.

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