Fruits of growth must reach have-nots: Mukherjee

New Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee Saturday said the high economic growth would mean nothing unless its fruits reached the poor people living below the poverty line in the country.

"The high economic growth that we have envisaged for our nation will count for nothing unless we are able to translate this into tangible benefits of the poorer sections of our society," Mukherjee said, in his inaugural address at the Northern India Chief Ministers' Conclave here.

Chief ministers of Chhattisgarh (Raman Singh), Himachal Pradesh (Prem Kumar Dhumal), Uttrakhand (Vijay Bahuguna) and deputy chief minister of Bihar (Sushil Kumar Modi) attended the conclave among others.

The meet was organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry on 'refuelling growth'.

"When 30 per cent of our population lives below the poverty line and 26 per cent are illiterate, 'inclusion' cannot merely be a slogan but a compelling goal," the president pointed out.

The president in his address touched upon the importance of manufacturing sector in job creation, augmenting contribution of all the northern states in the total GDP of the country, service sector, agriculture and called for more competitiveness as the important position of India in IT sector was getting challenged by the emerging economies.

Advocating increased expenditure in research and development, the president said that today it stood at just 0.09 percent of the GDP.

The president said only about 6,000 patent applications were filed by Indians in 2010, which is a mere 0.30 percent of the total applications filed in the world.

He asked the private sector to invest in research and development.

He said that while Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh contributed to nearly half of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), the share of northern states was around 21.4 percent.

"The growth in the northern states of the country is therefore significant for the nation's growth and therefore, it is a challenge that the chief ministers gathered here, should accept," the president said exhorting them.

Mukherjee said the growth of manufacturing sector was an important for the creation of jobs.

However he said "the growth in the manufacturing sector, which was 9.7 percent in 2009-10 and 7.6 percent in 2010-11, declined to 2.5 percent in 2011-12."

Noting that the share of manufacturing sector in India's GDP was 16 percent, the president said it was "much lower than comparable economies in Asia such as Thailand, South Korea, China and Malaysia, where its share is between 25 to 34 percent.

"The share of manufacturing in India's GDP is around 16 percent, which has been the level since the eighties, is much lower than the comparable economies in Asia such as Thailand, South Korea, China and Malaysia, where its share is between 25 to 34 percent," he said.

Appreciating the financial sector, the president said: "The financial sector in our country is one of the well-regulated sectors. The fact that the recent global financial crises has not affected us as it has some of the stronger economies, is a testimony to the maturity of our regulation."

However, he said to "realise the full potential of this sector and achieve an accelerated growth and inclusion, further reforms are required in banking, pension and insurance".

He noted that the growth in the agriculture sector was important for "alleviation of poverty, promotion of inclusive growth, sustenance of food security and generation of employment opportunities".

The president said the average growth rate in agriculture and allied sectors during the Eleventh Plan period was 3.3 percent, with 2.8 percent growth in 2011-12, which is the terminal year of the plan.

Calling for a second Green Revolution by extending it to eastern region, President Mukherjee advocated 4 percent annual growth in agriculture to accelerate the overall economic growth rate from the current levels.

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