Those who say market growth is irrelevant are enemies of poor

Saturday, March 22, 2008 | | |

Justifying UPA's economic reforms, Finance Minister P Chidambaram indirectly hit out at the Left parties, saying those who claim that the growth only helped the rich are the "worst enemies of the poor."

"Some 60 members of parliament" criticised everything being done by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and him (Chidambaram) to improve the economy, he said, addressing students of Thiagarajar College of Engineering on its golden jubilee celebrations here yesterday.

"On the market growth, they say growth is irrelevant. They say this growth only percolates to very small group of people. What do they want us to do. (Do) They only want us to distribute poverty in this country," he asked.

"Those who say the market growth is irrelevant and those who say the growth only helps the rich are the worst enemies of the poor. It is because of the growth, the government is able to do many development programmes," Chidambaram said.

He said in the last four years, Indian economy was growing at 8.8 percent a year and close to nine percent and "if we continue to grow at nine percent, poverty can be wiped out in the next generation
Anyone who understands the power of compounding will know that India's per capita income will double in ten years," he said.

The Finance Minister said currently India's per capita income is about $1,000, whereas smaller countries like Malaysia have higher capita income.

India is already the fifth largest economy in the world. The size of Indian economy will become so large that it would be among the top three countries in the world.

"If we continue to grow at this rate, India would be among the most prosperous countries in the world" dominating in education, services and goods.

Chidambaram said his dream was to see Indian economy overtaking that of China's.

"If we continue to grow close to nine percent, by the year 2020 India's per capita income would become $2,000 and by 2030 it would become $4,000." It would become $8,000 by 2040 and $16,000 by 2050, he said.

"Imagine the per capita income of this country 16 times larger in what it would be today. Of course long before that happens, India would become the third largest economy in the world, only after China and United States of America," he said.

Outlining the government's development schemes, Chidambaram said in 2003-04, a sum of Rs 1,961 crore had been allocated for the Sarva Shiksa Abhiyan Scheme.

"Next year, thanks to growth, I will provide Rs 15,100 crore for this scheme. Similarly, in 2003-04 we had provided Rs 1,175 crore for the mid-day meal scheme.

Next year, we will provide Rs 8,000 crore for the scheme and we will have thirteen crore children of India having the mid-day meals, which is the largest school lunch programme in the world," he said.