Tuesday, August 15, 2006

[India] 'Economic growth, weapon in fight against poverty'

from The Hindu News service

New Delhi, Declaring a "war on poverty" through higher economic growth, Prime Minister Manmohan Singhtoday asked the industry to chip in with more employment-oriented growth opportunities, saying they would reduce the"disproportionate burden" on agriculture.

"... we must ensure that more people get employment in manufacturing and services so that the disproportionate burdenon agriculture in providing a livelihood to two-thirds of our population gets reduced," the Prime Minister said, addressingthe nation from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort on the 60th Independence day of the country.

He said the most effective weapon against poverty was employment. "And higher economic growth is the best way togenerate employment," Singh said.

He said the Government had created a conducive environment for industrial enterprises to flourish and thatincludes special programmes for supporting labour-intensive small scale and handloom sectors.

"Handlooms and textile industries employ over 3.5 crore people. We are giving cheaper loans to this sector andhandloom cooperatives are being revitalised. I am hopeful that in the coming years, lakhs of jobs will be generated inthese sectors," Singh said.

The Prime Minister said there was a need to create an environment that encouraged business to grow and create moreemployment, especially in the manufacturing sector.

He said the most effective way to banish poverty was to generate growth, which in turn would create new opportunitiesfor gainful employment. "Hence, economic growth is of primary importance for us," Singh said.

The Prime Minister described the eight per cent growth rate of the Indian economy over the last three years asunprecedented and said it had helped create many jobs.

"Such rapid growth over three successive years is unprecedented in Indian history... The growth of themanufacturing industry has touched 11 per cent in the last quarter, generating many jobs for our youth and workers," hesaid.

He pointed out that through the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), the Government had made efforts toprovide jobs in rural areas. More than two crore families had already registered under the NREGA programme, covering 200districts, and the programme would gradually be expanded to the entire country, he added.

"This path-breaking Act is the most important social safety net for our poor. I am confident that this Act willhelp us in eradicating poverty," the Prime Minister said.

"India has marched a great distance forward in these 60 years, but the challenge of banishing poverty remains with us.We have yet to banish hunger from our land. We have yet to eradicate illiteracy. We have yet to ensure that every Indianenjoys good health," he said.

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