Blog Post

Realizing the Indian dream

It is probably too early to say with certainty that India will soon take its place as the world's third largest economy, behind China and the United States. But, given that India's investment climate seems to be improving, that moment might not be too far away.

By: Date: March 17, 2015 Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy

It is not often that I get to wear two hats at once. But that is exactly what happened earlier this month, when I spent a few days in New Delhi.

I was in India primarily as part of my current role as Chairman of a review for the British prime minister on anti-microbial resistance (AMR). But my visit coincided with the presentation of India’s 2015-2016 budget, the first under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Given some of my other interests and experiences, I found what was presented to be very interesting.

India’s economy has recently grown – in real terms – slightly faster than China’s

Following recent revisions to its GDP figures, India’s economy has recently grown – in real terms – slightly faster than China’s. A key feature of my research into the BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) more than ten years ago was that at some point during this decade, India would start to grow faster than China and continue to do so for dozens of years.

The reasoning is straightforward. India’s demographics are considerably better than China’s, and the size and growth rate of a country’s workforce is one of the two key factors that drive long-term economic performance – the other being productivity. Between now and 2030, the growth rate of India’s workforce will add as much to the existing stock of labor as continental Europe’s four largest economies put together. India is less urbanized than China, and it is in the early stages of benefiting from the virtuous forces that normally accompany that process.

But there is a catch. When it comes to productivity, India has been a laggard. Unless it finds a way to improve, the country’s demographic profile could become a burden rather than a benefit.

In this regard, Modi’s first full budget did not include anything dramatic. But if a number of initiatives are successfully implemented, the economy should receive a real boost. Indeed, the budget’s main feature is its commitment to investments in public-sector infrastructure, even at the expense of raising next year’s deficit from 3.6% to 3.9% of GDP.

I have argued for several years that India should emphasize investment spending, so I welcome this shift. The budget also includes a number of other helpful measures, such as the reduction of the corporate-tax rate and efforts to improve the business environment.

My visits as chairman of the AMR review also allowed me to witness some encouraging signs. In my book The Growth Map, I describe my unforgettable first visit to Gurgaon, a municipality near Delhi that serves as a regional financial and industrial hub. Gurgaon is home to a lot of high-flying technology firms, and on this trip I visited one of India’s leading diagnostics companies, SRL Diagnostic, which is developing tools that could improve the use of antibiotics.

The last time I made the trip from the Oberoi hotel in New Delhi to Gurgaon, it took well over 2.5 hours to travel the 30 kilometers. Though a new freeway was under construction, the building site was full of cars and animals. As a result, traffic was in a state of chaos, and it was impossible for any roadwork to be done.

I had always promised myself that the next time I took the trip, I would somehow repeat the exact journey. I am pleased to say that the drive now takes less than an hour and the experience was much less dramatic. Moreover, the hotel car that made the journey provided free Wi-Fi – the first time I have come across this anywhere in the world.

By 2017, India could surpass Italy and Brazil to become the world’s seventh largest economy

It is probably too early to say with certainty that India will soon take its place as the world’s third largest economy, behind China and the United States. But, given that India’s investment climate seems to be improving, that moment might not be too far away. By 2017, India could surpass Italy and Brazil to become the world’s seventh largest economy; by 2020, there is a reasonable chance that it will overtake France and the United Kingdom to become the fifth largest.

Overtaking Germany and Japan, however, will require bolder steps, especially regarding education, health, and economic policy. India will need to improve its education system dramatically, both at the secondary and tertiary level, and make similarly large advances in basic sanitation (not to mention implementing my review’s recommendations for combating AMR).

These developments, along with a more stable framework for monetary and fiscal policy, could lead to the type of double-digit growth that China has enjoyed for the past three decades. It is up to India’s policymakers to realize this ambition.

This article was originally published in Project Syndicate


Republishing and referencing

Bruegel considers itself a public good and takes no institutional standpoint. Anyone is free to republish and/or quote this post without prior consent. Please provide a full reference, clearly stating Bruegel and the relevant author as the source, and include a prominent hyperlink to the original post.

View comments
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

Elections, institutions and statecraft: A tumultuous year for Modi in India

With the turn of the year, India has firmly entered election mode. Recent regional elections have begun to shift the political landscape, while tensions continue to simmer between the Reserve Bank of India and the Ministry of Finance. How the Modi government sees out this term could set important precedents for the incoming government in May 2019.

By: Suman Bery Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: January 16, 2019
Read article More by this author

Opinion

The world deserves a more effective G20

As the presidency shifts from Argentina to Japan at Buenos Aires (and then to Saudi Arabia) it is worth asking why the G20 has endured this long and what it needs to remain relevant in a dramatically changed world.

By: Suman Bery Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation, Global Economics & Governance Date: November 29, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Deep Focus: The G20 in a changing world order

In this episode of Deep Focus, Bruegel fellow Suman Bery joins Sean Gibson to elaborate on his recent Policy Contribution on the G20's performance over the past decade, and the forum's future prospects.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: November 20, 2018
Read article Download PDF More on this topic More by this author

Policy Contribution

The G20 turns ten: what’s past is prologue

This Policy Contribution assesses the performance of the G20 since its first summit held in November 2008 to understand what could lie ahead for the institution.

By: Suman Bery Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: November 15, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Is this time different? Reflections on recent emerging-market turbulence

Since the beginning of 2018, currencies of two large emerging-market economies – Argentina and Turkey – suffered from substantial depreciation. Other currencies also recorded losses. Which factors are determining macroeconomic and financial stability in emerging-market economies? And what can be done to prevent a crisis and avoid its economic, social and political costs?

By: Marek Dabrowski Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: November 14, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Backstage: Japan’s inflation problem and monetary policy options

Bruegel senior fellow Zsolt Darvas welcomes Sayuri Shirai, professor at Keio University, visiting scholar at the Asian Development Bank Institute and former Member of the Policy Board of the Bank of Japan (BOJ), for a discussion of the Japanese monetary policy outlook. 

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: October 26, 2018
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Asia-Europe Economic Forum 2018 - Public

This year's Asia-Europe Economic Forum (AEEF) will be held in Brussels on 17-18 October

Speakers: Chung Chul, Xie Fuzhan, Matthias Helble, Jyrki Katainen, Jin Keyu, Jae-Seung Lee, Erik van der Marel, Yoichi Otabe, Jean Pisani-Ferry, Rintaro Tamaki, Amb. Karsten Warnecke and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Solvay Library, Rue Belliard 137, 1000 Bruxelles Date: October 18, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Backstage: The new balance of Asia-EU-US trade relations

Amid the Asia-Europe Economic Forum on the fringes of the 12th ASEM Summit, Bruegel senior fellow hosts a conversation on developing global trade relations, with guests Moonsung Kang, professor as Korea University, and Michael G. Plummer, director at SAIS Europe – Johns Hopkins University, for an episode of the Bruegel Backstage series on ‘The Sound of Economics’.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: October 17, 2018
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Asia-Europe Economic Forum 2018 - Closed-door

This year's Asia-Europe Economic Forum (AEEF) will be held in Brussels on 17-18 October

Speakers: William Becker, Franco Bruni, Zsolt Darvas, Andreas Esche, He Fan, Michael G. Plummer, Thomas Grjebine, Gao Haihong, Kiyoto Ido, Sébastien Jean, MA Jun, Moonsung Kang, Stefan Mair, Yung Chul Park, Choonsung Park, Sayuri Shirai, Guntram B. Wolff and Naoyuki Yoshino Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: October 17, 2018
Read about event

Past Event

Past Event

Policy responses for an EU-MENA shared future

In the third edition of the "Platform for Advanced & Emerging Economies Policy Dialogue" we will discuss trade flows and trade policy between Europe and MENA, integration of developing economies into global value chains, and regional energy relations.

Speakers: Karim El Aynaoui, Marek Dabrowski, Uri Dadush, Ignacio Garcia Bercero, Ettore Greco, Giuseppe Grimaldi, Badr Ikken, Joanna Konings, Said Moufti, Pier Carlo Padoan, Lia Quartapelle, Visar Sala, Nicolò Russo Perez, Nicolò Sartori, Simone Tagliapietra and Guntram B. Wolff Location: LUISS Business School Viale Pola, 12, 00198 Roma RM, Italy Date: October 11, 2018
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

European development policy in a global context

What is the role of Europe in development finance and how effective is the current institutional structure? How can we leverage the private sector to support development objectives?

Speakers: Cecilia Akerman, Sir Suma Chakrabarti, Thierry Déau, Marjeta Jager and Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: April 24, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Global income inequality is declining – largely thanks to China and India

Income inequality among citizens of 146 continues to fall, though at a somewhat reduced pace, according to the updated Bruegel dataset. Income convergence of China and India accounts for the bulk of the decline in global income inequality from 1988-2015.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: April 19, 2018
Load more posts