By Sunil Garodia
The Indian economy is slowing down. Latest figures for the October-December quarter released by the Central Statistics Office confirm this. GDP has grown at only 6.6 percent in the third quarter this year, forcing a revision of the full year estimates to just 7%. This means that the last quarter growth will be just 6.5%, the lowest in 7 quarters. Full year gross value added (GVA) will only be at 6.85% which means that for three consecutive years, India will have a sub-7% GVA growth.
The drastic fall in agriculture and fisheries, from 4.2% in July-September to 2.7% in the third quarter is a cause for worry. Given the acute farm distress, falling rates show that the distress will intensify. This also means that rural incomes are falling and consumption will go down. Couple this with the reported shortfall in the sowing of the rabi crop and there is no doubt that farmers will continue to bear the brunt for a longer than expected time. Consumption spending data from the hinterland shows a drastic fall in demand.
Manufacturing is not rosy either. GVA in this sector has gone down to 6.7%. It was 6.9% in the second quarter and a robust 12.4% in the first. The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) shows the growth at 2.7% and it is drastically down from the 8.7% achieved in the same quarter last year. Only gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) expanded by 10.6% against the 10.2% logged in the second quarter. Fresh and big investments from the government are also not expected as it is in the last leg of its term and has already gone beyond its fiscal deficit targets.
These figures, when juxtaposed with the slowdown in China and Europe, the upcoming general election in the country and the worsening relations between India and Pakistan, do not raise hopes of an early economic recovery. With inflation in check, it is now upon the RBI to give a push to investment by making a bigger rate cut than the token 0.25 percentage points it made the last time. But one feels that in the absence of a huge rise in demand for goods and services, any rate cut will not cut much ice with investors. Since demand is not going to rise in a hurry, we are in for a period of consolidation. Things will probably improve from the second quarter next year with a new government in place and buoyancy for the September to November festival season.