'It has to be integration of bazaar, samaj and sarkar to take India to the next level'

Smriti IraniSmriti Irani, Nandan Nilekani and Jay Panda in New Delhi on Monday.

Sidestepping any questions about his possible political debut for the Congress from Bangalore or the imminent Supreme Court verdict on UID, chairman of the UID Authority of India Nandan Nilekani nevertheless made a strong pitch for welfare measures piloted by the UPA government like the food security Bill, NREGA, etc.

"I am a problem solver. This is not the right platform (to talk about contesting elections). When I have something to say I will say it," Nilekani said after delivering a keynote address on "India's journey to 2018" at an event organised by the Eisenhower Foundation. However he did not oppose numerous references from the anchor of the programme to his political debut being a done deal. There have been reports that Nilekani is set to contest against BJP's Ananth Kumar on a Congress ticket and the technocrat-turned-bureaucrat has not refuted it so far.

"The key lies in meeting the expectations of an increasingly aspirational generation and to understand that aspiration is a non-linear commodity. It cannot be one way or the other, it has to be an integration of bazaar, samaj and sarkar to take India to the next level. Technology will play a key role in this, be it reaching healthcare to the villages or making PDS supplies available to people," Nilekani said in his speech. Countering criticism of UID, he highlighted its importance in reaching entitlements to the people.

The other panelists included Smriti Irani of BJP, Jay Panda of BJD and Vivek Gupta of Trinamool Congress. Asked about his takeaway from the evening as a future politician himself, Nilekani said he had very high respect for Indian politicians and they have a very tough job, so it may not be entirely fair to be too harsh on them.

Panda put up a strong defence of UID describing it as the "only thing that the UPA government is doing right".

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