Global slow down,fuel price rise not to hit India's growth: PM

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New Delhi, Dec 18 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said his government would do everything to maintain the GDP growth at 9 per cent even in the face of a possible global slow-down and the rising food and fuel prices.

''Our policy must be tuned to sustain 9 per cent growth even if world growth slows down and global food and fuel prices continue to remain under pressure,'' Dr Singh said while chairing a meeting of his Trade and Industry Council.

India should have the ambition and the courage to sustain the current acceleration of growth ''no matter what happens globally.

Our domestic economy can sustain such a growth process but we will need to pursue policies that can sustain growth.'' While India must remain alert to trends in the global economy, it must also recognize that the world was looking at India as a new engine of growth.

''If our economy continues to grow despite a global slow down, we will be able to lift millions of our people from poverty and generate employment for our youth,'' he said.

The Prime Minister drew attention to the 11th Plan strategy of giving special attention to education. He said expenditure on education was being increased from 7 per cent of total plan outlay in the 10th Plan to 19 per cent in the 11th Plan.

He invited Indian industry to come forward with new ideas on how Indian education can be expanded, modernized and made to address the challenge of the future. "We must not become slaves of the past. We need creative thinking and fresh thinking to address the challenges we face in education," the PM said.

Among those who attended the meeting were Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the Chairman National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council and Chairman Economic Advisory Council to PM.

The other members of the council present at the meeting were Mr Ratan Tata, Mr Keshub Mahindra, Mr Mukesh Ambani, Mr R.P. Goenka, Mr Jemshed Godrej, Mr N.R. Narayanamurthy, Mr Rahul Bajaj, Dr Anji Reddy, Mr Sunil Mittal, Mr Sunil Munjal and Mr Deepak Parekh.

The meeting discussed the current economic situation and issues of concern to Indian industry. All the participants underlined the various positive trends in the economy and drew attention to positive expectations about the future of Indian economy both at home and abroad. The meeting discussed at length global economic trends and whether the concern regarding a global slow down would affect the growth process in India.

The participants also gave their views on the domestic price situation, drawing attention to global trends in fuel and food prices. They expressed concern with persisting infrastructural and policy constraints on growth.

The participants universally emphasized the need to expand educational and skill development opportunities in India to address the growing shortage of a variety of skilled and qualified persons.

All participants called for a major reform and expansion of Indian education. They sought a policy framework for attracting more private investment in education and to facilitate greater public-private partnership in education.

UNI

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