New Delhi: In a complete contrast with the Centre’s tall claims of all-round development in the country, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar expressing concern over the plight of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and minorities in the field of development said, “The unemployment prevailing among Dalits is the worst.”

Addressing the 24th lecture series on Nehru at the Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative (IFFCO) on Monday, Meira appreciated the economic growth rate of 8.2 percent in 11th Five year Plan but expressed concern over standard of living of the poor.

Lok Sabha Speaker said, “The Scheduled Tribes are the poorest today. At least 80 percent of the elderly live in villages, and providing them services is a big challenge.”

“No matter how well we prosper, but without promoting the farmers, the development of the nation is incomplete. These farmers are agricultural landless laborers who reap the soil with their sweat,” She added.

Drawing inspiration from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, she said, his cooperative attitude needs to be inculcated into India’s ideology and emphasized on evolving according to time and situation.

Meira Kumar said the primary objective of the self-help group - Bank Linkage Programmme was to bridge the gap between financial network and informal credit sources. But studies have shown that the distribution of loans in the poorest regions of the country still remains unfavorable. Therefore, the credit cooperatives will have to play an important role to improve the situation.

On the occasion, she praised the management of IFFCO Managing Director Uday Shanker Awasthi. After the lecture, Ranmal Singh of Rajasthan and Samarpal Soingh of Uttar Pradesh were awarded the IFFCO cooperative Ratna while D Venkatram Reddy was presented the Cooperative Bandhu Award.