NEW DELHI, Reuter: India must aim to provide a job for every family, clothes and housing for everyone living below the poverty line and basic amenities for every village, the Ruling Congress (1) Party decided on Saturday.

A two-day meeting of the party’s central committee unanimously adopted an eight-point program of economic reforms which Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi greeted as “breaking new ground,” for the world’s second most populous country.

Gandhi said his government would give due consideration to the program and another covering land reform when formulating next February’s national budget.

The resolutions in effect constitute part of a draft election manifesto for the Congress (1) which must defend its huge parliamentary majority by December 1989,

The economic program called for provision of a job for one adult in every family, a midday meal for every child under six, two dhotis or saris (men’s or women’s garments) for every adult living below poverty line, and land and materials for a hut for every homeless family.

Every village should have drinking water, a health center, a permanent road, electricity and a primary school, and the poor should be provided with subsidized basic commodities and more educational opportunities, the Congress meeting decided.

It also called for a permanent buffer stock of food-grains, a ban on exports of essential foods and a strengthened public distribution system to try to hold down inflation, currently running at an annual rate ‘of more than 10 per cent.

The conference did not discuss the overall cost of the proposals but Energy Minister Vasant Sathe, winding up the debate on the economic program, estimated its cost alone at 35 billion rupees (2.4 billion dollars).

Quoted by the United News of India Agency, he said state and central government “Bureaucrats” could find this sum by curbing wasteful expenditure.

India has 30 million registered unemployed among its 800 million people. Some 600,000 villages and at least 100 million children under six.

More than 30 percent of Indians live below the official poverty lines of 102 rupees (seven dollars) per month in rural areas and 118 rupees (eight dollars) in urban areas.

Article extracted from this publication >> November 11, 1988