Citing uncertainty in global economic scenario, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said the government's endeavour to achieve 8% annual growth will not be an easy task, even though it is not unattainable.
At the Combined Commanders' Conference in New Delhi, Singh said India needs an aggregate growth rate of 8% per annum to create new job opportunities for more than 10 million persons who are going to enter the labour force each year.
"This is not going to be an easy task, given the international economic environment. However, it is not unattainable if we make determined efforts to increase our investment rate to 37-38% as was the case three years ago," Singh said.
While India has confronted persistent challenges on the external front, Singh said the global economic recovery has failed to materialise.
"The continuing uncertainty and weaknesses in the Eurozone economies have hobbled the pace of growth, including in Asian economies. Inevitably, India too has had to deal with the fallout of slowing growth, falling exports and expanding deficits," the Prime Minister said.
India's economic growth slowed to a 5.5% in the first quarter of 2012-13 from 8% in the year-ago period. While exports are on decline since May (till August), the fiscal deficit has touched 66% of the budgeted Rs 4.12 lakh crore in first five months of the financial year.
The Prime Minister stressed on the need to create an environment conducive for increased investment and savings rates, paying particular attention to investment in infrastructure sectors.
Singh further said, "as India grows, so will the responsibilities associated with protecting our new-found equities."
For example, Singh said, an expansion of the country's exports and a diversification of their destinations will call for equal measures to protect them from threats such as piracy.
The security of India's sea lanes would be equally vital in ensuring the country's energy security and access to other vital natural resources, he added.
"Indian expatriates and our overseas investments, already present around the globe, are also going to be in need of assurances regarding their well-being. Security, therefore, will remain a pre-eminent and key pillar of our national strength," Singh added.