India is confident to return to higher growth path: PM

Kochi, Jan. 8 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Tuesday said India is confident that the strong economic fundamentals, backed by sound policies, will enable it to return to a higher growth path despite domestic constraints and challenges.

"This is an imperative for the country, because, India needs rapid growth and a healthy economy to meet the aspirations of an increasingly young India and make economic development more inclusive and more sustainable. The Government has taken a number of steps to boost domestic and foreign investment, accelerate project implementation and reform capital markets and the tax system," said Dr. Singh in his inaugural address after inaugurating the 11th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here.

Dr. Singh said that among the most positive stories out of India in recent years are the acceleration in the rate of poverty reduction, stronger growth in the poorest states and improved productivity and increased real wages in our agriculture sector.

"This is significant, given that 65 percent of our population still relies on agriculture," he added.

Dr. Singh further said that the government took a small first step to deliver benefits through direct transfer to beneficiaries, using the digital Aadhaar platform, which is an example of efforts to make growth more inclusive and government programmes more efficient and less vulnerable to leakages of various sorts.

The Prime Minister said that the relationship between Pravasis and Bharat has taken many forms.

"One of its most glorious manifestations has been their contribution to India's independence movement. Nearly a hundred years ago, almost to this day, Mahatma Gandhi returned to lead a nation's march to freedom. This year, the country is celebrating the centenary of the Gadar Movement, which was a luminous spark of support in distant California for the struggle for independence being waged at home in our country," said Dr. Singh.

"Apart from commemorating it by the issue of a special postage stamp, India will also upgrade the Gadar Memorial in San Francisco into a functional museum and library with a sculpture to honour the Gadar Babas, the heroes of this great national movement," he added.

Dr. Singh further said that overseas Indians have served as a bridge of friendship and cooperation between India and their adopted homes abroad.

Meanwhile, Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi in his speech announced that the merger of the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) and Persons of Indian Origin Card (PIO) cards may become a reality very soon.

He said that the PBD is succeeding in its aim of becoming a forum for global Indians to engage with India, and to generate ideas on the mutually beneficial India-Diaspora engagement.

Outlining the steps taken by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Ravi said that the Ministry has signed four new Social Security Agreements (SSA) with Finland, Canada, Japan and Sweden. Two more SSAs with Austria and Portugal would be signed in the next couple of months.

Ravi further said that the Ministry has also set up the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF), which is expanded to all the Indian Missions abroad.

Mauritius President Rajkeshwur Purryag, who was the chief guest, said that India and Mauritius have traditional bilateral ties. There is a huge potential for bilateral trade and investment. He extended support for India's claim for the permanent seat in UN Security Council.

On the occasion, the Prime Minister released the postage stamp on Ghadar Movement. He also released the OIFC handbook 'India Support" and MOIA handbook on emigrants. (ANI)

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