Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee began presenting India's budget for this fiscal in the Lok Sabha on Monday, promising all that his government can do to ensure inclusive growth and address the growing aspirations of the country's young population.
Dressed in a spotless white bandgala suit, the 73-year-old politician said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government would push forward an agenda that will ensure 12 million new jobs each year and reduce poverty by half by 2014.
"The government recognises the challenges," he said, referring to the global slowdown and the decline in India's high growth rate in the past year to 6.7 per cent from over 9 per cent in the preceding three years.
"The first challenge is to bring back the GDP (gross domestic product) growth rate to over 9 per cent per annum," he said, setting the tone of what is his fourth career budget. "There are signs of an economic recovery."
He said the other challenges included better governance and to ensure that the fruits of development reached across regions to touch the lives of every citizen.