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Indian Economy Holds out Despite Global Uncertainty

Posted on 15 March 2012,    
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The big story of the last decade for India has been its arrival on the global scene and there was no looking back from the first years of the first decade of the 21st Century. The Economic Survey 2011-12 tabled by the Finance Minister, Shri Pranab Mukherjee in the Lok Sabha today outlined the state of global economy and India’s position therein. The Survey has charted out not only the new opportunities but also the new challenges and responsibilities that India faces in the current global economic scenario.

The Survey observes that, as per the IMF, at a growth rate of 7 per cent, India is projected to be the second fastest growing major economy after China. The share of India in global merchandise exports has increased from about 0.5 per cent in 1990 to 1.5 per cent in 2010. Moreover, the extent of financial integration, measured by flows of capital as a share of GDP has also increased dramatically and the role of India in the World Economy has commensurately expanded along with the other major members of emerging markets, which as a whole now account for one-half of world output.

The Economic Survey states that after the opening of the economy in the early 1990s, India has begun to appear as a player of significance in the global economy. The country’s exports have begun to climb, its foreign exchange reserves, which for decades had hovered around 5 billion dollars, have gone up exponentially after the economic reforms and in little more than a decade have risen to 300 billion dollars. Indian corporations that rarely ventured out of India are suddenly investing all over the world and some even in the industrialized countries.

Given its size and its profile in the global economy, India will inevitably need to play an active role at global level, not just in the efforts towards resolving the current crisis but also in influencing the goals for the global economy on overarching macroeconomic issues such as trade, capital flows, financial regulation, climate change and governance of global financial institutions. India, the Survey points out, is already too much a part of global economy and polity and the developments in the world will affect India deeply and what India does will affect the world. Therefore, the Survey advises, there is a need for India to engage with the world in terms of action and ideas.

Reflecting upon the state of global economy, the Economy Survey states that there is an apprehension that the process of global economic recovery that began after the financial crisis of 2008 is beginning to stall and the sovereign debt crisis in the Euro zone area may persist for a while. The lower global growth forecast by the IMF for most countries in 2012 reflects the repeated bouts of uncertainty. In the medium term, challenges for the global economy continue to emanate from the way the Euro zone crisis is addressed. The high deficits and debts in Japan and the US and slow growth in high income countries in general, have not been resolved. The looming risk to the global outlook is also on account of the geo-political tensions centered on Iran that could disrupt oil supply and result in a sharp increase in oil prices and even disrupt supply routes.

Volatility in capital flows resulting from the spillover affects of monetary policy choices and other uncertainties in the advanced financial markets further impacted exchange rates and made the task of macro-economic management difficult in many emerging economies. This has brought out a new dimension of globalization in the post-financial crisis world, where easy monetary policy in one set of countries may result in inflation elsewhere due to cross-border capital flows.

The changes in composition of the global economy suggest a perceptible shift in the global balance of output of goods, especially manufacturing. While services, in particular financial services, continue to be largely concentrated in advanced economies, a large share in world population, coupled with higher growth, implies that the EMEs (Emerging Market Economies) and developing countries will increasingly account for incremental growth in the global market for goods and services. Even if the emerging economies, including India, witnessed a slow growth in 2011, growth prospects of most of these economies remain robust in the medium to long run due to various factors such as demographics and size of the domestic market, apart from high rates of investment and savings.

While stating that India has begun to be a more open economy over the years and has moved up the ranks, the Economic Survey observes that it is still poorest among the G-20. While the country has an advantageous demographic dividend, its low spend on Research and Development and innovation, low energy intensity of GDP, 80 per cent dependence on imports for petroleum products, dependence on global markets for food security and a need for sustained investment are some of the areas which will have to be addressed for the country to emerge as a Strong Global Player.


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