India’s Economic Growth History: Fluctuations, Trends, Break Points and Phases

How has the Indian economy performed since independence? Prof. Raj Krishna popularised the phrase ‘Hindu rate of growth’ in the seventies, during the period of increasing controls and slowing growth rate.2 K N Raj (1984) however questioned this “so-called ‘Hindu’ rate of growth,” hypothesis. Patnaik (1987) and Dhar (1988) discerned some acceleration of growth in the eighties, while Virmani (1989) asserted a break in the GDP growth rate from 1980– 81. Nagaraj (1990) and Bhargava and Joshi (1990) did not find the break statistically significant. Dandekar (1992) concluded that the evidence of a break ‘can not be rejected.’ Ahluwalia (1995) also noted the increase in growth rate during the eighties.3 Nevertheless there was a widespread belief in the general public, among Non-Resident Indians and foreigners that the Indian economy was stuck since independence in the ‘Hindu rate of growth,’ of about 3.5% per annum. This conventional wisdom prevailed throughout the eighties and perhaps into the nineties.