Sunday, December 27, 2009

Upbeat on the Indian economy

I am upbeat on the Indian economy as the year end and for reasons I spell out in my ET column,, Economy's stronger than we think. I find I am in good company- several other commentators have since come out with optimistic assessments.

My reasons are:
  • This year's growth forecast of 7% plus shows India is not a bubble economy whose growth of 8-9% earlier was linked to the global economic bubble
  • The fiscal problem will come under control as growth gets back to the normal trajectory.
  • The polity will not be a drag and fears about the country coming apart because of the demand for newer states is misplaced.
On the demand for newer states, I note:
As for the demand for new states, concerns on this account carried greater force when states were first organised along linguistic lines. Then, the greatest fear was that language would rend the country as religion had during Partition. In the early sixties, an American analyst, Selig Harrison, wrote a book, India: The most dangerous decades, in which he warned that linguistic and caste divisions — ‘centrifugal pressures’ — could tear the country apart.

Our experience has been refreshingly different. The creation of new states in the fifties and thereafter has strengthened democracy by creating a better sense of participation among people. As many commentators have pointed out, this has also been our experience in more recent times with the creation of states such as Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal.

The division of states being demanded today is not even along linguistic lines. People speaking the same language want to go their separate ways because they want better representation, because administration is too remote in many of the larger states. We have no reason to fear these demands. The movement towards the creation of newer and newer states shows that the Indian state is responsive to aspirations for self-governance. The economy will benefit as it has in the past.
Surjit Bhalla, writing in BS, echoes my optimism and goes further. He thinks India will grow faster than China in the coming years:
China’s exchange rate will appreciate significantly starting 2010. How significantly? A first year appreciation to about 6 yuan per dollar from the present 6.8 level.

This scenario will have predicted effects — China’s GDP growth should moderate to a less polluting 8.5 per cent in 2010 and then proceed on a declining trend for the rest of the decade. This will mean jobs for the rest of the world. The other side-effect of the China growth rate decline will be on carbon emissions. They too will decline, and allow China to reduce its carbon intensity of output to at least the world average. In stark contrast, India does not have pressure from the world community to mind its currency or emissions. The productivity growth advantage of 2 per cent a year that China currently enjoys will soon disappear, leaving India with a GDP growth rate in excess of China, and in excess on a sustained basis.


P Shukla said...

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