New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said even the revised growth target of 8 per cent 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 per cent, 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."
Mentions gangrape victim
Manmohan Singh also pledged take action to protect the nation's women while the young victim of a gang rape on a New Delhi bus was flown to Singapore for treatment of severe internal injuries. He said the issue of safety and security of women was of the highest priority, and asked all chief ministers in the country to pay special attention to this critical area.
Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressing the 57th National Development Council (NDC) meeting in New Delhi on Thursday.