India can eliminate poverty in the next 15-20 years and prepare itself to become an economic superpower, Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on Friday.
Speaking at the golden jubilee celebrations of Gogte College of Commerce in Belgaum, he said countries like Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Mauritius, which were poorer than India, had overcome poverty within 20-30 years and hoped that India too could achieve the same feat in the next 20 years.
He said no country is an exception to poverty but in India nearly 300 million live in abject poverty, which is one of the worst enemies of economic growth.
Blaming lack of education as the reason behind poverty, he said efforts to enhance literacy level in the country should comprise initiatives, which ensured that every child attended school for at least 12 years.
The central government had earmarked Rs 13098 crore (Rs 130.98 billion) for education of which Rs 5155 crore (Rs 51.55 billion) had been set aside for secondary and technical education in the 2004-2005 Budget.
During the current fiscal, Rs 18330 crore (Rs 183.30 billion) had been earmarked for education, of which Rs 5001 crore (Rs 50.01 billion) had been allocated for secondary and technical education.
Projects and programmes should not stop when one government steps down and the other takes over, he said, adding the process should be like a relay race when one hands over the baton to the next runner in the race.
On whether the country was an 'open economy', Chidambaram said the "answer lies in what are the means. The producer should be given a free hand and he will deliver the goods."
"We are on a high growth rate with seven per cent growth during the current year and the target is 8.1 per cent which is achievable," he said.
"Our household saving is around 18 per cent and by tradition we are savers but that is not enough. It is very wise to save but wiser to borrow, i.e. invite foreign investment and both will will create jobs, wealth and savings and this is a simple cycle," he said.
On the topic 'on whether we are an open polity,' the minister said, "The answer is both yes and no and we have won political freedom but political parties are still to mature," he said.Later speaking at another function to lay the foundation stone for the auditorium of the bar council of Belgaum, he urged those in the legal profession to make a commitment that justice would be ensured to those who knocked at the doors of the judiciary.