Basic Problems of Indian Economy
Since 1991, the Indian economy has pursued free market liberalisation, greater openess in trade and increase investment in infrastructure. This helped the Indian economy to achieve a rapid rate of economic growth and economic development. However, the economy still faces various problems and challenges.
1. : Fuelled by rising wages, property prices and food prices inflation in India is an increasing problem. Inflation is currently between 8-10%. This inflation has been a problem despite periods of economic slowdown. For example in late 2013, Indian inflation reached 11%, despite growth falling to 4.8%. This suggests that inflation is not just due to excess demand, but is also related to cost push inflationary factors.
2. : Although India has benefited from a high % of English speakers, there is still high levels of illiteracy amongst the population. It is worse in rural areas and amongst women. Over 50% of Indian women are illiterate. This limits economic development and a more skilled workforce.
3. : Many Indians lack basic amenities lack access to running water. Indian public services are creaking under the strain of bureaucracy and inefficiency. Over 40% of Indian fruit rots before it reaches the market.
4. : Although India has built up large amounts of foreign currency reserves the high rates of economic growth have been at the cost of a persistent current account deficit. In late 2012, the current account reached a peak of 6% of GDP. Since then there has been an improvement in the current account. But, the Indian economy has seen imports growth faster than exports. This means India needs to attract capital flows to finance the deficit. Also, the large deficit caused the depreciation in the Rupee between 2012 and 2014.
5. It is hoped that economic growth would help drag the Indian poor above the poverty line. However so far economic growth has been highly uneven benefiting the skilled and wealthy disproportionately. Many of India’s rural poor are yet to receive any tangible benefit from the India’s economic growth.
6. : India has one of the largest budget deficits in the developing world. Excluding subsidies it amounts to nearly 8% of GDP. Although it is fallen a little in the past year. It still allows little scope for increasing investment in public services like health and education.
7. : As an example Firms employing more than 100 people cannot fire workers without government permission. The effect of this is to discourage firms from expanding to over 100 people. It also discourages foreign investment.
8. : Agriculture produces 17.4% of economic output but, over 51% of the work force are employed in agriculture. This is the most inefficient sector of the economy and reform has proved slow.
9. : 2013/14 has seen a slowdown in the rate of economic growth to 4-5%. Real GDP per capita growth is even lower. This is a cause for concern as India needs a high growth rate to see rising living standards, lower unemployment and encouraging investment. India has fallen behind China, which is a comparable developing economy.