"People should remember India continues to be the second fastest growing economy after China. Even China's growth which was at 10 percent has come down to seven percent now, while our growth has slid to five percent from nine percent," he said.

"Economic slowdown is there in all the countries. When there is slow growth rate in the world, India cannot remain unaffected," he said after inaugurating the 2110th branch of the Indian Bank in this small town in his Sivaganga Lok Sabha constituency.

Expressing hope that the country's growth would touch six percent this year, he said "People should be confident..self confident and take bank loan to invest in farm sector, small industries, housing etc. You should hope for bright tomorrow, and not worry about the slowdown."

On the petroleum products prices, he said it had gone up due to the price of crude oil touching 108 US Dollars per barrel, adding the price of petrol and diesel would show a declining trend only if crude came below USD 100 per barrel.

India imports over 70 percent of its oil demand and efforts are on to explore crude and gas in the country. "We have to reduce the import of crude to fifty percent for reducing the petrol and diesel prices," he said.

Chidambaram also said plans were on to open 8,000 new bank branches this year.

(Agencies)

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