Selasa, 20 Januari 2015

The tortoise may overtake the hare

Sometime in 2015, or more likely 2016, or maybe 2017, India will overtake China as the fastest growing large economy in the world.  It could potentially be a historic moment, for India and the world. The opportunity is India's to grasp, or equally likely, drop.

China's economy is slowing. Its GDP growth for 2014 (announced in an incredible 19 days after the year end) was 7.4 %. For the first time in 30 years, its GDP growth is below its own target of 7.5%. China's statistics are to be taken with a pinch of salt. Apart from the gargantuan task of measuring GDP for such a large country and number of people, its numbers are also, let us say, "approved" by the Communist Party. It was very likely that in the heady days, for a long period, China actually under reported its GDP. Growth was at such a frenetic pace that the Party was doing all it can to dampen the numbers. Now, its quite likely that the announced 7.4% is probably a tad overreported.  China's is a huge economy. Growing at that breakneck speed is no longer possible. The economy is slowing. Make no mistake; the growth rate , for its size, is still stunning, but the inevitable slowdown is starting. China is starting to slowly transform into a more mature economy.

Enter India. Its financial year ends in March and for 2014-15 and for the first three quarters it grew by 5.3%. That is still a full 2% below China's. But the trajectory is upwards. The World Bank last week estimated that India's growth rate would overtake China's in 2017. Goldamn Sachs estimates that it will happen in 2016. The IMF has just announced that it expects that to happen in 2015 itself. It is estimating India will grow by 6.5% and China by 6.3 %. We shall see.

Maybe, just maybe,  India's time in the sun is about to come. It has a strong government which is betting on development as the plank for reelection. It has a young and large work force. It is a slow elephant prone to many stumbles and disappointments in the past and could flatter to deceive again. But something tells me that this time India may actually do well. If there is a sustained period for say 10 years, when India is the fastest growing large economy, it will have profound consequences both for the country and for the world. 

For Indians, it may be the chance, finally, to start winning on "Garibi Hatao" (eliminate poverty).  For the world, somebody must take China's place in leading global growth. India is the natural, and preferred choice. Geopolitically, a rising India will also contribute to a multipolar world and manage the "risks" of the China ascendancy. Just as China's rise from the 1990s transformed the world, the same could happen all over again with India.

Wishful thinking ?? Maybe. But for reasons this blogger cannot explain, this time, it looks different. Its India's turn to "win the World Cup". It's cricketing fortunes may be on the wane but its economic fortunes couldn't be better.  The first step will be on February 28th when the first real budget of the BJP government is presented. If its a cracker, then that might be the start of India's ascent.

It may be the best time to be an Indian.
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