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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 February 2007, 00:35 GMT
India aims to end poverty by 2040
A crowded boat in India
The poorest in India often lack the most basic facilities
India's finance minister has said poverty is fast declining in the country and could be wiped out by 2040.

In a BBC interview, Palaniappan Chidambaram attributed this to the fast pace of India's economic growth.

"People will have homes, work, food, clothing, access to education and medical care," Mr Chidambaram said.

But he also said that some 25% of all Indians - or more than 250 million people - were still living in "abject poverty", earning less than $1 a day.

Mr Palaniappan told the BBC World Service Newshour programme that poverty "will continue to decline" in India.

Businessman trying out a Porsche
Affluence is more apparent in the country these days

"The faster we grow and the more inclusive that growth is, the decline in poverty will be rapid.

"I'm confident we can wipe out poverty by 2040."

Mr Palaniappan admitted that the rapid economic growth in India in recent years could have widened the gap between the richest and the poorest in the country.

But he said that "at the same time those at the bottom of the pyramid have seen improvement in their lives".

The minister also said more should be done to combat relatively low life expectancy rates and high mortality rates.

India has become a world economic power, with growth over the past three years averaging 8% - a rate approaching that of its booming neighbour, China.

Based on purchasing power parity, it is now the world's fourth largest economy.

However, income per head in India today is just $720 (365) a year.

India's low costs and huge, English-speaking, workforce have made it popular with multinationals for work including manufacturing and call centres.

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