Economy would soon be back on the 8-9% growth path - from around 7% projected for the current fiscal - on the back of strong fundamentals and favourable domestic factors, President Pratibha Patil said Monday.
Her longest and last address to the joint session of Parliament - halfway into UPA-2's tenure - reflected the government's concerns over a slowing economy and poor showing in the recent state elections. Patil's term ends in July.
"My government is confident that it will soon steer the country back to the high growth trajectory of 8-9%," she said, while announcing a number of pro-people measures four days ahead of the budget.
The growth rate was expected to slow down to 7% in the current fiscal from last financial year's 8.4 % but it was "healthy" in view of the global trend, she said.
Patil expressed hope that growth in the 12th Plan period (2012-17) would be 9%, with agriculture growth at about 4%- a target, economists say, difficult to achieve.
Meeting the high economic goal would not be possible without harvesting the demographic dividend - by 2020, average age of an Indian would be 29. Eight crore young people would get special training for which 6,500 skill-development institutes would be set up.
In her 106-paragraph speech, slammed by the BJP as lacking in vision, Patil discusses a range of issues - black money, e-governance initiatives, fight against corruption, health-for-all, and food security law.
Various steps taken by the government had the "potential of bringing about a transformational change" in fighting corruption and enhancing accountability, she said.
E-governance projects in education, health, public distribution and postal services would be launched and more services delivered through internet and mobile phones. Patil identified - livelihood, economic, energy, environmental, internal and external security - as five big challenges facing the government.