SNS & PTI, BERHAMPUR (Orissa), July 4:
Poverty can be eradicated in India by 2020 if proper steps are taken, President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam said today.
The population below poverty line in the country was about 50 per cent in 1995, which had come down to nearly 22 per cent today. “By 2020 definitely we can reach zero per cent,” he said at the platinum jubilee celebration of City High School here which was attended, among others, by about 1,700 students.
The President dwelt on the subject after a student asked him “Is eradication of poverty in the Indian situation a reality or a dream ?” In his speech delivered earlier, Dr Kalam said uplifting 260 million people below the poverty line was a major challenge as they required habitat, food, health care, education and employment.
“Our GDP is growing at the rate of nearly eight per cent per annum. Economists suggest that the economy has to grow at the rate of an additional minimum of two per cent per annum consistently for over a decade,” he said.
Transforming the country into a developed nation would require meeting the needs of one billion people for which five areas had been identified where the country had core competency of integrated action.
“These five areas are closely inter-related and if effectively addressed will lead to food, economic, energy and national security and sustainable prosperity,” he said.
The five areas are agriculture and food processing, education and health care, infrastructure for all parts of the country (such as reliable and quality electricity, surface and air transport), information and communication technology and self-reliance in strategic sectors, Dr Kalam said.
Dr Kalam said emphasis should be on full utilisation of natural and human resources of the region to meet the demands of the modern society. “We should also remember that about 50 per cent of our population consist of young people with aspirations for better life,” he said.
Value addition to agriculture, manufacturing and service sectors of economy and building on the regions of core competency and technologies would lead to higher economic and income and employment opportunities and therefore a higher growth rate, he said.
The engines of growth would be launching of five national missions in water, energy, education and skills, infrastructure and employment generation.
Referring to a question why a state like Orissa with huge mineral resources had remained poor and backward, the President said the state should have a ten-year vision to increase the per capita income three times.