New Delhi, Dec 27 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday said even the revised growth target of 8 percent for 12th Five Year Plan was ambitious, and that involvement of women and development of infrastructure remained at the core of achieving the goal.
Addressing a meeting of the National Development Council (NDC) to finalise the 12th Five Year Plan and referring to the lower growth target of 8 percent, the prime minister said circumstances had made this goal, too, a challenge.
"This is a reasonable modification. But I must emphasise that achieving an average of 8 percent growth, following less than 6 percent in the first year, is still an ambitious target," the prime minister said.
According to him, India was reasonably successful in what it has achieved thus far in growth and development, notably in reduction of poverty and scaling up the farm output.
"But we must also remember that we are still a low-income economy. We need 20 years of rapid growth to bring it to middle-income level. The journey is long and requires hard work," he said at the Vigyan Bhavan convention centre here.
"Better infrastructure is the best guarantee for rapid growth of the economy," he said. "There can be no meaningful development without the participation of half the population (comprising women), their security must be assured."
An extra-constitutional, non-statutory body, the council is the apex institution for decision-making in India, led by the prime minister, and includes cabinet ministers, the chief ministers of all states and representatives from union territories.
In the approach paper for the 12th Plan (2012-13 to 2016-17), the Planning Commission, led by Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, had set a growth target of 9 percent, which was lowered to 8.2 percent in September. Now, it has been lowered further.
Ahluwalia said three growth scenarios have now been visualized for the plan.
The aspirational scenario now was 8 percent due to global economic factors. The second target was 6.5 percent if key policy decisions are not implemented properly. Third was 5-5.5 percent if there is a policy logjam.
"It is 'scenario one' only which will met the aspiration of people," Ahluwalia said, adding: "It will go a long way to meet the demands of the chief ministers."