On the sidelines of the oath-taking ceremony of Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said despite Moody’s downgrade of India's growth forecast, he hoped the economy would do better than last year.

“It [Moody’s projection] is a cause for concern but one should not draw unwarranted conclusions,” Dr. Singh told reporters when asked to comment on the rating agency’s research arm scaling down its forecast for the country’s economic growth this fiscal to 5.5 per cent.

“The fundamentals of the Indian economy are strong … [its] investments and savings are among the highest in the world. I am hopeful, we will do still better than the 6.5 per cent growth performance of last year,” the Prime Minister said.

Earlier, President Pranab Mukherjee administered the oath of office and secrecy to Mr. Ansari, who was elected last week for a second tenure of five years.

Mr. Ansari is India’s 12th Vice-President and is only the second person after Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan to get a second term. By virtue of his position as Vice-President, Mr. Ansari would be the Chairman of Rajya Sabha.

Dr. Singh, the former President Pratibha Patil, United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Bharatiya Janata Party leaders L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, and several dignitaries, including Union Ministers and Governors, attended the ceremony.

Mr. Ansari defeated NDA candidate Jaswant Singh with a thumping majority in the August 7 election for the post. He had polled 490 votes against 238 cast in favour of Mr. Singh.

‘Mere bravado’

Separately, the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley accused the Prime Minister of being in “denial mode” on the state of the Indian economy.

“The patient does not want to be treated. He is convinced that he is not unwell...The Prime Minister's statement that fundamentals of the Indian economy are strong comes as a surprise. It clearly shows that the Prime Minister is living in denial about the real state of the India economy.”

“Wake-up call”

Mr. Jaitley said the government should treat Moody’s assessment as a “wake-up call” and the Prime Minister must respond to it. “Economy is not run by bravado,” he said.

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