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ONE of India's proudest sons, Dr Amartya Sen, argues in his book Development as Freedom that development is a process of expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy.

He says, "Growth of GNP or of individual incomes can, of course, be very important as means to expanding the freedoms enjoyed by the members of the society. But freedoms depend also on other determinants, such as social and economic arrangements (for example, facilities for education and health care) as well as political and civil rights."

The UPA Government accepts this ethical dimension to the discussion of economic issues, and in this Budget I have attempted to reflect that dimension. More or less the same idea was articulated two thousand years ago by Saint Tiruvalluvar who said:

Pini Inmai Selvam Vilaivu Inbam Emam

Ani Enba Nattirkku Iv Iyndhu

(Health, wealth, produce, the happiness that is the result, and security.

These five, the learned say, are the ornaments of a polity)

This Budget, Mr Speaker, is an attempt to lay down a path in which growth and equity will reinforce each other and build a new India.

Sir, with these words, I commend the Budget to the House.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 1, 2005)
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