As another year draws to an end, extracts from two speeches delivered this year — one by an ex-finance minister (who happens to be the current Prime Minister) and another by the current Finance Minister. Both the speeches were delivered to a foreign audience and the extracts reproduced here cover only the hard facts, not the political rhetoric and the palaver.
Let us begin with Dr. Manmohan Singh’s address to the Japanese Business Delegation, on 20 August 2007 -
Today, the Indian economy is in a position to sustain GDP growth rates that are close to 9%. Foreign Exchange reserves stand at over US$ 200 billion. We expect to receive Foreign Direct Investment of about US$ 30 billion this year. Our savings and investment rates are close to 35% of our GDP. Our foreign trade constitutes 33% of our GDP, which is a testimony to India’s growing integration into the global economy.
On cue is the speech by Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram at the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Oslo on ‘India’s Socio Economic Agenda: Development with Democracy’ delivered in October 2007.
The India growth story has been told and retold many times and all of you are familiar with that story. Allow me, however, to narrate some highlights of that story and bring you to the present day. GDP at market prices has increased from US$ 20 billion in 1950-51 to US$ 912 billion in 2006-07 and is expected to cross a trillion dollars in the current year. In terms of purchasing power parity, India’s GDP at US$ 4 trillion in 2006-07 accounted for 6.3 per cent of global GDP. Average annual economic growth, which had been constant and tardy at 3.5 per cent during the first thirty years of Independence, increased to 5.7 per cent during the 1990s and, since 2003-04, the average rate has increased further to 8.6 per cent. 2006-07, in particular, was a splendid year with the GDP growing at 9.4 per cent. This growth has not been jobless growth. During 1999-2000 to 2004-05, India added to its workforce about 12 million people each year. During this period, the rate of growth of employment was 2.9 per cent per year. India, after China, is the fastest growing economy of the world, and together with Brazil, Russia and China is the locomotive driving world growth.
The proportion of people living below the poverty line in India has declined from 51.3 per cent in 1977-78 to about 22 per cent in 2004-05. But in absolute terms they still number around 250 million. More than one third of our 1.1 billion people live on less than one dollar a day.
…we have achieved an enrolment ratio of 95 per cent in primary education. Of the children in school, 73 per cent are now reaching Grade V.
We have managed to provide drinking water to 83 per cent of our rural population and sanitation coverage has gone up in the last decade to 22 per cent from a dismal rate of 3 per cent.
Farm loans have more than doubled in three years from Rs 869 billion in 2003-04 to Rs 2032 billion in 2006-07. Loans to students have trebled from Rs 45 billion at the end of March 2004 to Rs 142 billion at the end of March 2007. It is not widely known that India runs the largest micro-finance programme in the world. At the end of August 2007, 2.93 million self-help groups, an overwhelming number comprising women alone, had been provided credit by the banks. The total amount of outstanding credit is Rs 181 billion.
One-third of the population is below the age of 15 years. India is the only large country in the world where the size of the working age population will grow – and will exceed the number of dependent children and old persons – until 2025, the year up to which projections of population have been made, and perhaps even beyond till 2045.
While the critics sharpen their knives (and you read the comments to this post), savour the moment and feel good about the Indian economy. And do join me in wishing the Indian Economy another great year ahead — 2008.