Addressing media persons at the National Media Centre here, Dr. Singh said: " Over the past decade, we have been through many ups and downs. During my first term in office, India witnessed for the first time in its recorded history a sudden acceleration of economic growth to 9.0 per cent."
"This exceptional performance was followed by a slowdown initiated by the global financial crisis. Over the past couple of years, all Emerging Economies have experienced a slowdown. India was no exception," he added.
Emphasizing that economies have ups and downs, Dr. Singh said: "We should not focus overly on the short term. We should recognize that even if we include the years of slowdown, the rate of growth achieved in the past nine years, is the highest for any nine year period."
"And, it is not just the acceleration of growth that gives me satisfaction. Equally important is the fact that we made the growth process more socially inclusive than it has ever been," he added.
He further said: "In 2004, I committed my government to what I said would be "A New Deal for Rural India". I believe we have delivered on that promise very substantially."
"We followed farmer-friendly policies, including raising support prices for farmers, expanding credit to farmers, and through increased investment in horticulture, in rural development, and rural infrastructure, especially roads and electricity," he added.
Dr. Singh said: "The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme has assured agricultural labour of a floor and has increased their bargaining power. Improved delivery of health and education services is giving new hope to our brothers and sisters living in rural areas of the country."
"These initiatives have ensured that agricultural GDP has grown faster than earlier. India has become one of the world's largest producers of food-grains, sugar, fruits and vegetables, milk and poultry. Rural wages have increased in real terms much faster than earlier," he added.
Stating that rural real consumption per capita has increased four times faster, Dr. Singh said: "Because of these developments the percentage of the population below the poverty line has fallen much faster in the period 2004 to 2011 than it did in the previous ten year period. As a result, the number of people below the poverty line has come down by 13.8 crore."
--ANI (Posted on 03-01-2014)