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Since the 2000s, India has made remarkable progress in reducing absolute poverty. Between 2011 and 2015, more than 90 million people were lifted out of extreme poverty.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic led India’s economy into a contraction of 7.3 percent in FY21, despite well-crafted fiscal and monetary policy support. Following the deadly ‘second wave,’ growth in FY22 is expected to be nearer to the lower bound of the range of 7.5 to 12.5 percent – still putting India among the fastest growing economies in the world. The pace of vaccination, which is increasing, will determine economic prospects this year and beyond. Successful implementation of agriculture and labor reforms would boost medium-term growth, while weakened household and corporate balance sheets may constrain it. The economic slowdown triggered by the outbreak is believed to have had a significant impact especially on poor and vulnerable households. Recent projections of GDP per capita growth, taking into account the impact of the pandemic, suggest that poverty rates in 2020 have likely reverted to estimated levels in 2016.

The informal sector, where the vast majority of India’s labor force is employed, has been particularly affected. As in most countries, the pandemic has exacerbated vulnerabilities for traditionally excluded groups, such as youth, women, and migrants. Labor market indicators suggest that urban households are now more vulnerable to fall into poverty than they were before the onset of the pandemic.

The response of the government to the COVID-19 outbreak has been swift and comprehensive. A national lockdown to contain the health emergency was complemented by a comprehensive policy package to mitigate the impact on the poorest households (through various social protection measures) as well as on small and medium enterprises (through enhanced liquidity and financial support).

To build back better, it will be essential for India to stay focused on reducing inequality, even as it implements growth-oriented reforms to get the economy back on track. The World Bank is partnering with the government in this effort by helping strengthen policies, institutions, and investments to create a better future for the country and the people through green, resilient an inclusive development.

Economic Outlook

After growing at very high rates for years, India’s economy had already begun to slow down before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Between FY17 and FY20, growth decelerated from 8.3 percent to 4.0 percent, with weaknesses in the financial sector compounded by a decline in the growth of private consumption. In FY21, the economy contracted by 7.3 percent.

In response to the COVID-19 shock, the government and the Reserve Bank of India took several monetary and fiscal policy measures to support vulnerable firms and households, expand service delivery (with increased spending on health and social protection) and cushion the impact of the crisis on the economy. Thanks in part to these proactive measures, the economy is expected to rebound - with a strong base effect materializing in FY22 - and growth is expected to stabilize at around 7 percent thereafter.

Last Updated: Oct 04, 2021


households have seen their lives improve as a result of soil and water conservation in 7 drought-prone districts of Karnataka


India: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments
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Country Office Contacts

Sudip Mozumder

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New Delhi