India’s GDP claws back faster than expected in second quarter, contracts at 7.5 per cent

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New Delhi: India’s economy recovered faster than expected in the September quarter as a pick-up in manufacturing helped GDP clock a lower contraction of 7.5 per cent and held out hopes for further improvement on better consumer demand.

The gross domestic product (GDP) had contracted by a record 23.9 per cent in the first quarter of the 2020-21 fiscal (April 2020 to March 2021) as the coronavirus lockdown pummelled economic activity.

With the gradual opening up from June, the economy has picked up, according to official data released on Friday. Manufacturing clocked a surprise 0.6 per cent growth in July-September after it had shrunk by a massive 39 per cent in the preceding quarter.

Continuing its good showing, the agriculture sector grew by 3.4 per cent, while the trade and services sector showed lower-than-expected contraction at 15.6 per cent. Public spending was down 12 per cent. The GDP contraction of 7.5 per cent in July-September compares with a growth of 4.4 per cent in the same quarter last year.

China’s economy grew by 4.9 per cent in July-September this year, faster than the 3.2 per cent growth in April-June 2020.

Though the contraction in July-September pushed India into its first technical recession, based on records going back to 1996, a sharp recovery held out hopes for the economy turning around before the end of the fiscal year.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das had on Thursday stated that the recovery from the lockdown has been stronger than expected and the economy could show growth in the fourth quarter.

The improvement in the economy came ahead of next week’s interest rate decision by the RBI and coincides with a drop in India’s daily virus cases, which have tapered off to half of its peak of more than 97,000 infections a day in mid-September.

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