McKinsey rates India ahead of China

By agencies   |   Friday, 20 May 2005, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: How many times have you dismissed the government’s growth analysis as window dressing? It’s time you stopped. India’s reputation in the world is now earning it more brownie points from overseas analysts than official number crunchers back home.

Sounds unbelievable? Well, here’s the lowdown: In its recent report on a comparison of Indian and Chinese financial systems, the McKinsey Quarterly has trotted out some pretty impressive growth statistics for India.

Entitled ¬ďIndia¬ís Lagging Financial System¬Ē, the report makes a point-by-point comparison of the two ¬ďemerging economic giants¬Ē. But the real surprise lies in the fine print. According to the report, India¬ís GDP growth in the ¬Ď93-03 period at 8.4 percent is higher than China¬ís 8.1 percent ¬ó the only parameter where the Indian economy scores over China.

This is quite in contrast to the more plebeian numbers the government’s own Central Statistical Organization (CSO) dishes out annually. According to the CSO, the decadal growth of the Indian economy is less than 6 percent.

Finance minister P Chidambaram has gone on record saying that the key difference between India and China is that both have reached a similar high growth phase. But while China has held on to it, the Indian GDP growth rate has oscillated widely.

In Budget ¬Ď05-06, he said, ¬ďAt the recent meeting of the finance ministers of the G-7 countries, to which India and China were invited, the finance minister of China looked in my direction and told the gathering that China had received $500 billion worth of foreign investment since it opened its economy in 1980. Of this, nearly $60 billion came in calendar 2004.¬Ē

The McKinsey report is, however, less euphoric about the India story in other respects. ¬ďAs powerful as the progress of both countries has been, China¬ís industrial development is clearly outstripping that of its neighbor, not only because of China¬ís head-start in economic liberalization but also because of a commonly overlooked factor: India¬ís financial system,¬Ē it says.

The report says that even after discounting the huge NPAs of the Chinese banking system, its financial stock was more than $4 trillion in 2003, nearly four times the size of India¬ís stock. It is this difference and the lower domestic savings ratio and FDI inflow, due to which ¬ďIndia has been less able to finance investment and accumulate physical capital¬Ē (including infrastructure).

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