So we are now officially the second fastest growing nation in the world. At 8.2 per cent, India’s GDP actually rose higher than expected last fiscal, never mind that it didn’t translate into votes for the NDA government. With good monsoons a certainty this year, North Block prophesies a jaw-dropping 7-8 per cent in 2004-05, which, assuming even a mildly encouraging budget, may finally catch that elusive shine.
Why? Two reasons. Last year’s achievement, while bright, is part-statistical; it merely comes as double of 2002-03’s rain-starved growth, with agriculture down to a miserable minus 5 per cent. Abundant rains last season buoyed the farm sector by an astounding 9.1 per cent over the year. Secondly, China is clamping down on an investment boom and expects growth to slow down to 7 per cent in 2004 from a seven-year high of over 9 per cent in 2003. So, India might even end up the fastest growing nation!