India will soon attain an 8-9% annual growth rate and become a US $3-trillion economy, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Saturday even as he stressed that there should be clarity as to the true meaning of development. Inaugurating the 40th national conference of the Indian Sociological Society at the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith University here, Mukherjee said it should be clear as to what is the meaning of development.”Does it mean only GDP growth or also include elements such as Gross National Happiness?,” he asked.Gross National Happiness is a concept adopted by Bhutan in the 70s after the country rejected GDP as the only way to measure progress. Bhutan has called for a new approach to development, which would assess prosperity on the basis of the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of the citizens. Expressing confidence that India would soon achieve 8-9% annual growth and become a US $3-trillion economy, the President asked social scientists to identify how growth can be achieved without destruction of the environment as he noted that climate change and erratic monsoons would have tremendous consequences for the country and its people.In reference to the conference’s theme of ‘Development, Diversity and Democracy’, Mukherjee said that in the early days of our Independence many were sceptical whether democracy would survive in India.”However, our democracy has been a huge success. The 2014 elections to the Lok Sabha has established how 1.27 crore people are fully capable of governing themselves,” he said. Observing that democracy is much more than just voting and elections, Mukherjee said, “Our Constitution encompasses an all-embracing vision of justice — social, economic and political. We cannot afford to ignore any of these ideals in pursuit of the other.”Referring to the Anna Hazare-led protest against corruption, Mukherjee said that citizens were galvanised into a force through public awareness and the government was compelled to have a dialogue with social activists.”This shows that our political system has evolved into a model where legislation and action can be scrutinised by the public at every stage, even if there is no right of recall of elected representatives,” he said, citing the popular movement for passage of the anti-corruption Lokpal Act.Reflecting on the strength of diversity in Indian society, Mukherjee said, “Attempts to bring uniformity have failed and Indian civilisation has survived because of diversity and the spirit of tolerance towards each other.” He said the manner in which people of different language, culture and ethnicity, come together and sit in one legislative chamber under one Constitution reflects the strength of India’s diversity.