New Delhi | Jagran Business Desk: The Indian economy grew by a record 20.1 per cent in the April-June quarter. India is now on track to achieving the world's fastest growth this year.

The growth was helped by a weak base of last year and a sharp rebound in the manufacturing and services sectors in spite of a devastating second wave of COVID-19 cases.

While there was a sharp year-on-year expansion, sequentially the economy slowed down by 16.9 per cent over the January-March quarter and was 9.2 per cent short of pre-COVID levels of April-June 2019, according to the first quarter GDP data released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) Tuesday.

The economy had contracted by a massive 24.4 per cent in April-June 2020 after one of the world's most stringent lockdowns was imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus infections, crippling economic activity. GDP had grown by 1.6 per cent in the January-March 2021 quarter.

The sequential contraction in GDP in Q1 of the current fiscal came after three consecutive quarters of expansion.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

GVA expanded by 18.8 per cent year-on-year in Q1 but sequentially it recorded a double-digit contraction of 13.3 per cent given the disruptions in April-May due to the lockdown restrictions imposed in the wake of the second wave of COVID-19.

The rebound in the first quarter of the current fiscal was led by a better-than-expected manufacturing performance and a milder hit to services, combined with a robust pace of vaccinations. Vaccination coverage has risen from 4.7 per cent of the total population in January-March to 24.5 per cent in Q1.

The rebound was led by a near 50 per cent year-on-year jump in manufacturing, 68.3 per cent rise in construction activity and 34.3 per cent growth in services such as trade, hotels and communications.

Agriculture, which was the only sector that showed growth amid the stringent lockdown in April-June last year, posted an impressive 4.5 per cent growth over the previous year. Last year, it had expanded by 3.5 per cent.

Government consumption and exports also picked up.
Despite the record growth in the first quarter, the Indian economy is yet to reach pre-COVID levels.
The size of the Indian economy in April-June 2019 was Rs 35.66 lakh crore, which shrank to Rs 26.95 lakh crore a year later. In the first quarter of the current fiscal, it stood at Rs 32.38 lakh crore.

Barring agriculture, the size of all other sectors is below pre-COVID levels. Manufacturing at Rs 5.43 lakh crore is lower than Rs 5.67 lakh crore in April-June 2019, while sevices at Rs 4.63 lakh crore is way short of the pre-pandemic levels of Rs 6.64 lakh crore.

Agriculture at Rs 4.86 lakh crore is higher than the pre-COVID level of Rs 4.49 lakh crore.

Asia's third-largest economy contracted 7.3 per cent in 2020-21 fiscal (April 2020 to March 2021) after a nationwide lockdown early last year crippled economic activity.

The economy started to emerge from the deep slump towards end of 2020 but was again hit by the second wave in April-May.

However, this time the impact was not so severe because of less stringent localised lockdowns.

The momentum has further picked after the second wave subsided. But some analysts have warned of risks posed by spiking infections from the Delta variant and the slow pace of vaccinations in some states that could delay the economy from reaching its pre-pandemic level of about USD 2.9 trillion to the middle of next fiscal.

While Reserve Bank of India (RBI), IMF and S&P Global Ratings have forecast annual growth of 9.5 per cent in the current fiscal, Moody's Investors Service sees the economy expanding by 9.3 per cent. World Bank has estimated the GDP growth at 8.3 per cent in the fiscal to March 2022 and Fitch Ratings has put GDP growth forecast at 10 per cent.

Those projections are the highest among major economies, surpassing China's 8.5 per cent.

Q1 GDP growth to set tone for economic revival in coming quarters: Niti Aayog VC

India's growth rebound in the first quarter of this fiscal will be the foundation of sustained expansion in successive quarters, Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said on Tuesday, adding that the country's GDP growth estimates may get revised upwards in the coming weeks.

"Economic growth in the April- June quarter of 2021-22 (Q1) has come in at 20.1%, which is at the upper end of all estimates, making the apparent consensus redundant. This rebound in Q1 will be the foundation of sustained growth in successive quarters," Kumar tweeted.

"With the Chief Scientist of the @WHO, Ms. Swaminathan, postulating a weakness in COVID-19 going forward, we could see GDP growth estimates being revised upwards in the coming weeks. The Government's focus on ramping up capital expenditure has set desired results," he added.

(With PTI Inputs)

Posted By: Sugandha Jha