The 67-years of independence have seen many changes in the socio-economic landscape of Asia's third largest economy.
During the decades that followed the colonial rule, India's economy, in absolute terms, has expanded to Rs 57 lakh crore from mere Rs 2.7 lakh crore and the nation's foreign exchange reserves have crossed $300 billion, giving the economy firepower to fight external shocks.
Even as the country has progressed in laying out the basic framework to take the economy to high growth path by building roads and ports and ramping up the food grain production, a fast growing population and infrastructure woes demand more work to be done on multiple fronts.
Here is a look at the key macro indicators of the nation's economy fromindependence till now:
India's GDP, in absolute numbers, has grown from a mere Rs2.7 lakh crore to Rs57 lakh crore in 67 years of indpendence.
Annual growth of GDP (In %)
Economic growth surged to near double-digit levels between 2005-06 to 2007-08 compared with anaemic growth in the early years post indpendence. The growth has slowed to sub-5 percent levels in the last two financial years hit by slowdown in global and domestic economies and in the absence of much needed growth oriented reforms.
Gross domestic savings as % of GDP
Gross domestic savings of Indians, as a percentage of GDP, has grown over the decades to touch a high of 36.8 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2008, but the ratio has steadily declined after that to 30 percent in fiscal year 2013, causing concern to the policymakers.
India's food grain production has more than doubled over the decades that followed colonial rule to a record 264 million tonnes in the fiscal year 2014. But, to feed the fast growing population, with more than a quarter of them still estimated to be below the poverty line, the country needs to produce more.
Post independence, the country has progressed significantly in building roads to connect its cities with its hinterland, but given that poor infrastructure is a major concern for India, the country needs a wider road network to carry the fruits of growth to far-flung villages.
The nation's foreign exchange reserves have grown to over $ 300 billions from a mere $ 2 billion at the time of independence. Strong foreign exchange reserves have given the economy more fire power to withstand external shocks compared. In January 1991, India had to pledge 67 tonnes of gold to International Monetary Fund after the country's forex reserves plunged to a mere $ 1.2 billion, just enough to finance three weeks of essential imports.
India's imports have shot up at a faster pace than exports over the decades resulting in a widening gap in the trade balance. India's current account deficit widened to a record 4.8 percent of the GDP in the fisal year 2013, before falling to 1.7 percent in fiscal year 2014 after the government clamped down on gold imports.
India's external debt
The country's external debt has surged to $440 billion in the fiscal year ending March 2014. The external debt, which comprises of government and non-government borrowings, has risen mainly because of increase in the non-government debt. At end March, 2014, total government debt stood at $82 billion and that of non-government debt at $359 billion.
Published Date: Aug 15, 2014 10:40 AM | Updated Date: Aug 15, 2014 10:40 AM
Tags :#Agriculture#Debt#Economy#Food Production#GDP#Grain#Growth#Independence#India#Reserve Bank Of India
Two decades of double-digit growth in pay for skilled labor have caused wages to rise and have chipped away at India’s competitive advantage. Countries like the Philippines have emerged as attractive alternatives for outsourcing. India’s higher-education system is not generating enough talent to meet the demand for higher skills. Worst of all, India is failing to make full use of the estimated one million low-skilled workers who enter the job market every month.
Manufacturing requires transparent rules and reliable infrastructure. India is deficient in both. High-profile scandals over the allocation of mobile broadband spectrum, coal and land have undermined confidence in the government. If land cannot be easily acquired and coal supplies easily guaranteed, the private sector will shy away from investing in the power grid. Irregular electricity holds back investments in factories.
India’s panoply of regulations, including inflexible labor laws, discourages companies from expanding. As they grow, large Indian businesses prefer to substitute machines for unskilled labor. During China’s three-decade boom (1978-2010), manufacturing accounted for about 34 percent of China’s economy. In India, this number peaked at 17 percent in 1995 and is now around 14 percent.
In fairness, poverty has sharply declined over the last three decades, to about 20 percent from around 50 percent. But since the greatest beneficiaries were the highly skilled and talented, the Indian public has demanded that growth be more inclusive. Democratic and competitive politics have compelled politicians to address this challenge, and revenues from buoyant growth provided the means to do so.
Thus, India provided guarantees of rural employment and kept up subsidies to the poor for food, power, fuel and fertilizer. The subsidies consume as much as 2.7 percent of gross domestic product, but corruption and inefficient administration have meant that the most needy often don’t reap the benefits.
Meanwhile, rural subsidies have pushed up wages, contributing to double-digit inflation. India’s fiscal deficit amounts to about 9 percent of gross domestic product (compared with structural deficits of around 2.5 percent in the United States and 1.9 percent in the European Union). To hedge against inflation and general uncertainty, consumers have furiously acquired gold, rendering the country reliant on foreign capital to finance its trade deficit.
Economic stability can be restored through major reforms to cut inefficient spending and raise taxes, thereby pruning the deficit and taming inflation. The economist Raghuram G. Rajan, who just left the University of Chicago to run India’s central bank, has his work cut out for him. So do Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, also an economist, and the governing party, the Indian National Congress. These steps need not come at the expense of the poor. For example, India is implementing an ambitious biometric identification scheme that will allow targeted cash transfers to replace inefficient welfare programs.
India can still become a manufacturing powerhouse, if it makes major upgrades to its roads, ports and power systems and reforms its labor laws and business regulations. But the country is in pre-election mode until early next year. Elections increase pressures to spend and delay reform. So India’s weakness and turbulence may persist for some time yet.Continue reading the main story