Things are looking bleak for the Indian economy. GDP growth in the latest quarter was a subdued 5.8 per cent, unemployment levels are at record highs, the fiscal deficit numbers projected in the Budget are suspect and presumed to be larger, export growth hit a 41-month low in June this year, and growth in the eight core sectors of the economy remained sluggish at 0.2 per cent. On the demand side, passenger vehicle sales, tractor sales, two-wheeler sales, and domestic air traffic growth have all been declining for around six months. FMCG sales are slowing down as well. Further, the trade war and the prospect of a global growth slowdown should be giving our economic policy makers sleepless nights.
One of the core issues which lie at the heart of many of these problems has to do with India’s dwindling investment rate. In just under a decade, India’s Gross Capital Formation (investment rate) has fallen about 9 percentage points from a high of 40 per cent of GDP in 2010-11 to about 31 per cent in 2017-18. The situation has become worse in the preceding few months where announcements of new projects have drastically declined. According to the CMIE database, Indian companies announced new projects worth ₹43,400 crore in the June 2019 quarter for both the private sector and public sector combined. This translates to about 81 per cent lower than what was announced in the March quarter and a stunning 87 per cent lower than the same period a year ago.