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Nation must work harder to wipe out poverty: President

SNS | New Delhi |

President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday, speaking on the eve of the 68th Republic Day, said that the nation has to work harder to rid poverty and ensure food security. He also said demonetisation may have affected economic activity, but its effect was temporary and it will push transparency in the system and curb corruption.

Addressing the nation on TV, the president pointe D out the need to work harder as one-fifth of India's still remained below poverty line.

"We have to work harder to provide food security to our people and to make the agriculture sector resilient to the vagaries of nature. We have to provide better amenities and opportunities to our people in villages to ensure a decent quality of life," he said.

 "Our economy is yet to grow at over 10 per cent for an extended period of time to make a significant dent on poverty," he added.

While pointing out that poverty remains a challenge to the nation, the president said that demonetisation will create transparency in the system and foster in growth.

"Demonetisation while immobilising black money and fighting corruption may have led to temporary slowdown of economic activity. As more and more transactions become cashless, it will improve the transparency of the economy," he said in a televised address to the nation.

Mukherjee said the industry on the domestic front must sharpen its competitive edge. He said the Indian economy was doing well and showing signs of recovery despite the challenges of the global economy — growing at 7.2 per cent during the first half of this fiscal, which was the same as last year.

"We are firmly on the path of fiscal consolidation and our inflation level is within the comfort zone. Though our exports are yet to pick up we have managed a stable external sector with sizeable foreign exchange reserves," he said.

However, "we have to work harder to provide enhanced employment opportunities to our youth through the creation of world-class manufacturing and services sectors. The competitiveness of the domestic industry has to be improved by focusing on quality, productivity and efficiency," he said.  A10-per cent sustained growth was imperative to wipe out poverty, he added.

The president said the several government initiatives had been promoting the well-being of the people. Among them, he highlighted Aadhaar, which was plugging leakages in reaching government schemes to 110 crore people in a transparent manner.

He also said the Digital India programme was creating a knowledge economy and a digital infrastructure to promote cashless transactions, while Start-up India and the Innovation Mission were fostering new-age entrepreneurship.

(With inputs from agencies)