The economy of India is the twelfth largest economy in the world by market exchange rates and the fourth largest by purchasing power parity
India was under social democratic-based policies from 1947 to 1991. The economy was characterized by extensive regulation, protectionism, and public ownership, leading to pervasive corruption and slow growth. Since 1991, continuing economic liberalization has moved the economy towards a market-based system. A revival of economic reforms and better economic policy in 2000s accelerated India’s economic growth rate. By 2008, India had established itself as the worlds second-fastest growing major economy However, the year 2009 saw a significant slowdown in India’s official GDP growth rate to 6.1% as well as the return of a large projected fiscal deficit of 10.3% of GDP which would be among the highest in the world.
India’s large service industry accounts for 54% of the country’s GDP while the industrial and agricultural sector contribute 29% and 17% respectively. Agriculture is the predominant occupation in India, accounting for about 60% of employment. The service sector makes up a further 28% and industrial sector around 12%. The labor force totals half a billion workers. Major agricultural products include rice, wheat, oilseed, cotton, jute, tea, sugarcane, potatoes, cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats, poultry and fish. Major industries include textiles, chemicals, food processing, steel, transportation equipment, cement, mining, petroleum, machinery, information technology enabled services and software.
India’s per capita income (nominal) is $1016, ranked 142nd in the world, while it’s per capita (PPP) of US$2,762 is ranked 129th. Previously a closed economy, India’s trade has grown fast India currently accounts for 1.5% of World trade as of 2007 according to the WTO. According to the World Trade Statistics of the WTO in 2006, India’s total merchandise trade (counting exports and imports) was valued at $294 billion in 2006 and India’s services trade inclusive of export and import was $143 billion. Thus, India’s global economic engagement in 2006 covering both merchandise and services trade was of the order of $437 billion, up by a record 72% from a level of $253 billion in 2004. India’s trade has reached a still relatively moderate share 24% of GDP in 2006, up from 6% in 1985.
Despite robust economic growth, India continues to face many major problems. The recent economic development has widened the economic inequality across the country. Despite sustained high economic growth rate, approximately 80% of its population lives on less than $2 a day (nominal), more than double the same poverty rate in China. Even though the arrival of Green Revolution brought end to famines in India, 40% of children under the age of three are underweight and a third of all men and women suffer from chronic energy deficiency.
Goldman Sachs predicts that in spite of the high growth rate, India will continue to “remain a low-income country for several decades with per capita incomes well below its other (Brazil, Russia, India and China) BRIC peers”.
India’s economic history can be broadly divided into three eras, beginning with the pre-colonial period lasting up to the 17th century. The advent of British colonization started the colonial period in the 17th century, which ended with independence in 1947. The third period stretches from independence in 1947 until now.
The spice trade between India and Europe was one of the main drivers of the world economy and the main catalyst for the Age of Discovery
The citizens of the Indus Valley civilization, a permanent and predominantly urban settlement that flourished between 2800 BC and 1800 BC, practiced agriculture, domesticated animals, used uniform weights and measures, made tools and weapons, and traded with other cities.
The 1872 census revealed that 99.3% of the population of the region constituting present-day India resided in villages, whose economies were largely isolated and self-sustaining, with agriculture the predominant occupation.
Religion, especially Hinduism, and the caste and the joint family systems, played an influential role in shaping economic activities.
An aerial view of Calcutta Port taken in 1945. Calcutta, which was the economic hub of British India, saw increased industrial activity during World War II.
Company rule in India brought a major change in the taxation environment from revenue taxes to property taxes, resulting in mass impoverishment and destitution of majority of farmers and led to numerous famines. The economic policies of the British Raj effectively bankrupted India’s large handicrafts industry and caused a massive drain of India’s resources. Indian Nationalists employed the successful Swadeshi movement, as strategy to diminish British economic superiority by boycotting British products and the reviving the market for domestic-made products and production techniques. India had become a strong market for superior finished European goods. This was because of vast gains made by the Industrial revolution in Europe, the effects of which was deprived to Colonial India. The Nationalists had hoped to revive the domestic industries that were badly effected by polices implemented by British Raj which had made them uncompetitive to British made goods.
It also created an institutional environment that, on paper, guaranteed property rights among the colonizers, encouraged free trade, and created a single currency with fixed exchange rates, standardized weights and measures, capital markets. It also established a well developed system of railways and telegraphs, a civil service that aimed to be free from political interference, a common-law and an adversarial legal system. India’s colonization by the British coincided with major changes in the world economy—industrialization, and significant growth in production and trade. However, at the end of colonial rule, India inherited an economy that was one of the poorest in the developing world, with industrial development stalled, agriculture unable to feed a rapidly growing population, India had one of the world’s lowest life expectancies, and low rates for literacy.
Independence to 1991
Compare India (orange) with South Korea (yellow). Both started from about the same income level in 1950. The graph shows GDP per capita of South Asian economies and South Korea as a percent of the American GDP per capita.
Indian economic policy after independence was influenced by the colonial experience (which was seen by Indian leaders as exploitative in nature) and by those leaders’ exposure to Fabian socialism. Policy tended towards protectionism, with a strong emphasis on import substitution, industrialization, state intervention in labor and financial markets, a large public sector, business regulation, and central planning. Five-Year Plans of India resembled central planning in the Soviet Union. Steel, mining, machine tools, water, telecommunications, insurance, and electrical plants, among other industries, were effectively nationalized in the mid-1950s Elaborate licences, regulations and the accompanying red tape, commonly referred to as Licence Raj, were required to set up business in India between 1947 and 1990.
Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister, along with the statistician Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, carried on by Indira Gandhi formulated and oversaw economic policy. They expected favorable outcomes from this strategy, because it involved both public and private sectors and was based on direct and indirect state intervention, rather than the more extreme Soviet-style central command system. The policy of concentrating simultaneously on capital- and technology-intensive heavy industry and subsidizing manual, low-skill cottage industries was criticized by economist Milton Friedman, who thought it would waste capital and labour, and retard the development of small manufacturers.
India’s low average growth rate from 1947–80 was derisively referred to as the Hindu rate of growth, because of the unfavorable comparison with growth rates in other Asian countries, especially the “East Asian Tigers”.
Main articles: Economic liberalization in India and Economic development in India
Major improvements in educational standards across India have helped its economic rise. Shown here is the Indian School of Business at Hyderabad, ranked number 15 in global MBA rankings by theFinancial Times of London in 2009.
In the late 80s, the government led by Rajiv Gandhi eased restrictions on capacity expansion for incumbents, removed price controls and reduced corporate taxes. While this increased the rate of growth, it also led to high fiscal deficits and a worsening current account. In response, Prime Minister Narasimha Rao along with his finance minister Manmohan Singh initiated the economic liberalisation of 1991. The reforms did away with the Licence Raj (investment, industrial and import licensing) and ended many public monopolies, allowing automatic approval of foreign direct investment in many sectors. Since then, the overall direction of liberalisation has remained the same, irrespective of the ruling party, although no party has tried to take on powerful lobbies such as the trade unions and farmers, or contentious issues such as reforming labour laws and reducing agricultural subsidies. Since 1990 India has emerged as one of the fastest-growing economies in the developing world; during this period, the economy has grown constantly, but with a few major setbacks. This has been accompanied by increases in life expectancy, literacy rates and food security.
While the credit rating of India was hit by its nuclear tests in 1998, it has been raised to investment level in 2007 by S&P and Moody’s. In 2003, Goldman Sachs predicted that India’s GDP in current prices will overtake France and Italy by 2020, Germany, UK and Russia by 2025 and Japan by 2035. By 2035, it was projected to be the third largest economy of the world, behind US and China.