India pledged Monday to invest billions of dollars to improve the lives of farmers and boost the rural economy, drive consumer demand and stimulate growth.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitely proposed spending nearly $13 billion on rural development, promising higher incomes for farmers who form the majority of India's 1.2 billion people. Presenting the annual budget for 2016-17, he forecast that India would grow by 7.6 percent in the year ending March 2016.
The government intends to distribute the benefits of growth among the poorer sections of society, including the vast majority of India's farmers, he said. "We plan to double farmers' income in five years," Jaitely said.