India had been one of the fastest growing economies till early 2011. For almost half a decade before that, along with China, India was clocking over 8 per cent GDP growth annually and talks among analysts were ripe that India, along with its neighbour, would spearhead Asia’s rise in the new world order of the 21st century. However, things have gone awfully wrong for us ever since! The growth rate has kept plummeting, ebbing now at less than 5 per cent in the previous financial year; even till date, there is little light at the end of the tunnel. Two of the foremost reasons for such bottoming out are dried up investments and a rising current account deficit, which are becoming worse with each passing year as the burden of the global slowdown becomes heavier. While our current account deficit has reached a record 4.8% of GDP in FY 2012-13, as per a recent chamber of commerce report, new investment proposals from domestic and foreign entrepreneurs have dried up by 75% as compared to the previous year. As compared to 2,828 investment proposals in the fiscal year 2011-12 worth Rs.6 lakh crore, the figure in FY 2012-13 was 697 proposals worth Rs.1.4 lakh crore.
Ever since the liberalization era of early 1990s, Indian lawmakers had been obsessed with foreign investments and foreign capital, as if foreign companies were the panacea for our economy and ultimate messiahs to move our economy forward. And hence, the potential of our domestic capital and investments was thoroughly ignored. The domestic financial infrastructure in terms of developing an indigenous credit market was given a cold shoulder and all policy weight was put behind attracting foreign investments. Critics were silenced with the argument that emphasis is given on FDIs and not FIIs – as the latter had been a major catalyst for the infamous South East Asian economic collapse back in the late nineties. Our policy advisers, who are mostly accustomed to aping tried and tested economic doctrines instead of formulating something that is country specific to India’s economic environment and culture, couldn’t see the danger lurking. As global recession set in to full effect, the automatic depletion of FDI was a foregone conclusion. And as we had been over dependent on foreign investments – and thus had kept our indigenous credit infrastructure half-baked – there were no defenses against our economy flattening!