India’s double-digit growth ambitions fade

NEW DELHI, April 24, 2011 (AFP) – India’s dreams of attaining double-digit economic growth within the next few years are fading, undermined by high inflation, slow progress on reforms and an uncertain global outlook. While hundreds of millions of Indians are still mired in poverty, the step-change in growth has transformed living standards for many millions of others and “remains the most compelling story of our times”, said Business Standard publisher T.N. Ninan in a weekend column. The ruling Congress party has long wanted to make history as the administration which ushered in growth of 10 percent — touted by successive governments as vital to significantly reduce crushing poverty.

But India’s main economic planning body looks set to row back on the goal of double-digit expansion when it fixes the country’s five-year economic, social and other goals to 2017.

Setting a target of 10 percent average growth “for the next five years is not feasible”, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia admitted late last week, citing inflation, a need to jump-start reforms and an “international situation full of uncertainty”.

However, Ahluwalia said nine percent was a realistic target as the coun