The Indian economy will grow at 5 per cent in 2013-14, almost at the same rate as in the current financial year, or even better, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said while addressing a meeting of Indian diaspora in New Delhi today.
He said the Indian economy has done well over the past decade. In the nine years since 2004, the economy averaged a healthy annual growth rate of 7.9 per cent., though there had been a slowdown in the recent past.
However, he emphasised that by the year-end the growth would be at the same level of around 5 per cent.
''A number of international as well as domestic factors have contributed to this situation. Despite these challenges, our economic fundamentals remain strong. Our savings and investment rates are still over 30 per cent of our GDP and the entrepreneurial spirit in India is very much alive and kicking,'' the prime minister said while inaugurating the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.
The prime minister also tried to dispel pessimism over India's growth prospects. ''There is a perception in some quarters outside India that the country is losing its momentum of the past decade. This is also amplified by the political contestation here in India, which are inevitably louder in the election season that is now on the horizon. I wish to assure you that there is no reason to despair about our present or worry about our future,'' he said.
Highlighting the various decisions taken by the government such as accelerated development of infrastructure, reforming tax administration, improving fiscal management, liberalising foreign direct investments and rationalising the system for allocation and utilisation of natural resources, he said, India will continue to be an attractive investment destination for the Indian diaspora.
He said the government has undertaken various measures to support investments, including in the financial and insurance sectors and these measures are already beginning to make an impact and India is re-emerging as an attractive investment destination. ''I am confident you will see the evidence clearly in the next few months,'' he said.
He said the recent developments (AAP coming to power in Delhi) has only enriched Indian democracy, making it more participative and interactive, with people using both traditional methods and new digital tools to mobilise and communicate.
''It is especially encouraging to see our youth from all walks of life not only articulate their expectations and aspirations, but take actively to politics to shape their future.
''It is only thus that the extraordinary transformation that is taking place in our country on multiple levels can be distilled constructively into our democratic process, which has the vitality and responsiveness to reflect the new and emerging concerns and hopes and aspirations of our people. I am confident and so should you be that the future of our country as a pluralistic democracy is safe and secure,'' he told the diaspora.
The prime minister mentioned some of the key initiatives of his government, such as the legislation on Right to Information, Lokpal, the Government Procurement Bill, changes in the systems for the allocation of natural resources and empowering law enforcement and audit agencies, to provide open, transparent, accountable and clean government.
''The task is complicated because we have to overhaul entrenched practices and systems while respecting the federal nature of our polity. Strengthening governance is an ongoing process and we can never say that we have done enough, but I am confident that we are moving in the right direction,'' he said.
He also assured the non-residents of continuous support and assistance in promoting their links with India in every possible way. ''We have also recently launched the Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Suraksha Yojana to provide social security to Indian workers abroad. The Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra in Delhi will be completed this year. We also intend to start a scheme to assist state governments in establishing Pravasi Bharatiya Bhawans,'' the prime minister pointed out.
''India is changing rapidly from within at the same time as being called upon to adjust to a rapidly changing world. This is a formidable challenge for a country of our size and our diversity. But it is a challenge we are equal to. In particular, we draw strength from the energy and optimism of India's youth; from the freedoms that empower our people; from the debate that enriches our thinking; from the sense of unity that only becomes deeper when tested the most; and from the political consensus that underpins our economic policy.
''I have no doubt that we are prepared to assume the international role and responsibilities that the world at large expects from a rising India. I am also confident that the association between India and its over twenty-two million roving ambassadors in the expatriate Indian community will continue to deepen and prosper in the years that lie ahead,'' he added.