Impact of Covid-19 on India’s economy

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on India has been largely disruptive in terms of economic activity as well as a loss of human lives. Almost all the sectors have been adversely affected as domestic demand and exports sharply plummeted with some notable exceptions where high growth was observed. India’s growth in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year 2020 went down to 3.1% according to the Ministry of Statistics. The Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India said that this drop is mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic effect on the Indian economy. Notably, India had also been witnessing a pre-pandemic slowdown, and according to the World Bank, the current pandemic has “magnified pre-existing risks to India’s economic outlook”.

From April to June 2020, India’s GDP dropped by a massive 24.4%. According to the latest national income estimates, in the second quarter of the 2020/21 financial year (July to September 2020), the economy contracted by a further 7.4%. The recovery in the third and fourth quarters (October 2020 to March 2021) was still weak, with GDP rising 0.5% and 1.6%, respectively. This means that the overall rate of contraction in India was (in real terms) 7.3% for the whole 2020/21 financial year.

In the post-independence period, India’s national income has declined only four times before 2020 – in 1958, 1966, 1973, and 1980 – with the largest drop being in 1980 (5.2%). This means that 2020/21 is the worst year in terms of economic contraction in the country’s history, and much worse than the overall contraction in the world.

The Indian Oil & Gas industry is quite significant in the global context – it is the third-largest energy consumer only behind USA and Chine and contributes to 5.2% of the global oil demand. The complete lockdown across the country slowed down the demand for transport fuels (accounting for 2/3rd of demand in the oil & gas sector) as auto & industrial manufacturing declined and goods & passenger movement (both bulk & personal) fell. Though the crude prices dipped in this period, the government increased the excise and special excise duty to make up for the revenue loss, additionally, road cess was raised too. As a policy recommendation, the government may think of passing on the benefits of decreased crude prices to end consumers at retail outlets to stimulate demand.

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