The Lost Decade (2008-18): How India’s Growth Story Devolved into Growth Without a Story

Author: Puja Mehra

PUBLICATION: Penguin Random House


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Before the global financial meltdown of 2008, India’s economy was thriving and its
GDP growth was cruising at an impressive 8.8 per cent. The economic boom impacted
a large section of Indians, even if unequally. With sustained high growth over an extended
period, India could have achieved what economists call a ‘take-off’ (rapid and
self-sustained GDP growth). The global financial meltdown disrupted this
momentum in 2008.
In the decade that followed, each time the country’s economy came close to returning
to that growth trajectory, political events knocked it off course.
In 2019, India’s GDP is growing at the rate of 7 per cent, making it the fastest-growing
major economy in the world, but little on the ground suggests that Indians are actually
better off. Economic discontent and insecurity are on the rise, farmers are restive and
land-owning classes are demanding quotas in government jobs. The middle
class is palpably disaffected, the informal economy is struggling and big businesses
are no longer expanding aggressively.
India is not the star it was in 2008 and in effect, the ‘India growth story’ has devolved
into ‘growth without a story’. The Lost Decade tells the story of the slide
and examines the political context in which the Indian economy failed to recover
lost momentum.

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