“In the nine years since 2004, we averaged a healthy growth rate of 7.9 percent,” he said here while addressing the inaugural session of the 12th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the annual gathering of people of Indian origin.
“There has no doubt been a slowdown in the recent past, and we will probably end this year at the same level as last year with 5 percent growth.”
Manmohan Singh said a number of international and domestic factors have contributed to this situation.
“Despite these challenges, our economic fundamentals are strong. Our savings and investment rates are still over 30 percent of the GDP and the entrepreneurial spirit in India is very much alive,” he stated.
He urged Indians abroad to stay positive despite questions about the future of the Indian economy and concerns about social challenges.
“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 contestations here in India, which are inevitably louder in the election season,” the prime minister said.
“I want to assure you that there is no reason to despair about our present or worry about our future.”
While lamenting that the government could not legislate deeper reform measures in the financial and insurance sectors due to lack of greater political support, Manmohan Singh said the decisions that have been made were already beginning to make an impact and India was re-emerging as an attractive investment decision.
“I am confident you will see the evidence clearly in the next few months,” he asserted.
On the education sector, the prime minister said the number of central universities in the country have gone up from 17 to 44 while the number of IITs and IIMs have doubled.
Describing the infrastructure development in the country, he said: “We have added 17,000 km of highways and more than 200,000 km of new roads in rural areas. Our power generation capacity is expanding rapidly, aided by initiatives in solar, wind and nuclear energy to give ourselves a more sustainable energy future.”
Manmohan Singh said that India’s economic growth has not only accelerated but has also become socially more inclusive and regionally more balanced.
“Our poverty levels are declining at faster rates; agricultural growth has accelerated; and real rural wages have increased three times since 2004,” he said.
On providing a clean and transparent government, Manmohan Singh expressed the view that the task was 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.