New Delhi: India’s annual economic growth surged to a more than two-year high of 8.2 percent in the three months through June, giving Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government a political boost in the final year of his term before elections.
Modi has been under pressure to make good his promise to deliver reforms and provide jobs to the millions of young people who enter the workforce each year as he faces a clutch of state elections this year followed by his planned re-election bid in 2019.
Data released showed manufacturing and consumer spending driving expansion, raising hopes that the rural economy was starting to turnaround.
The latest period’s annual pace beat a Reuters poll forecast of 7.6 per cent, and was the highest since India logged 9.3 per cent growth in the January-March quarter of 2016.
It easily surpassed the 6.7 per cent growth posted by China for the same quarter, and it restored India’s growth to levels posted by the Congress governments during the decade before Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party swept to power in 2014.
“This is New India of PM Narendra Modi’s vision; with a strong, sustained momentum of growth,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore said on Twitter, leading a drum beat of praise for Modi for his stewardship of the economy.
India’s $2.6 trillion economy surpassed France’s in 2017 to become the world’s sixth largest, and it was not far behind the United Kingdom, according to World Bank data.
But the GDP growth comes off a low base of 5.6 per cent for the same quarter a year ago and it relates to the period just before the annual monsoon rains which are the lifeblood of India’s economy.
So far the rains, which run from June to September, have been slightly below normal and uneven with some areas running a deficit of over 40 per cent while others are flooded.