Coronavirus – Economic Issues

Economy in lockdown: On India’s worst-case scenario


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 3- A stimulus package to deal with the economic disruption of pandemic is suggested by various experts. What should be its size and how effective it would be in your opinion?

This op-ed discusses the latest projections by the IMF. The latest projection and suggestions by IMF are the bleak reminder of economic disruption we have been experiencing.

IMF discards its previous projections

  • Less than two months ago, IMF had asserted that “global growth appears to be bottoming out” (i.e. announcing the worst is over).
  • But the pandemic induced ‘Great Lockdown’ has forced the IMF to junk all its previous projections for economic output in 2020.
  • Faced with the stark reality of sweeping shutdowns of almost entire economies worldwide, the fund last week acknowledged that the current “crisis is like no other”.
  • The IMF slashed its projection by 6.3 percentage points from its January forecast for 3.3% growth to a 3% decline.
  • This is the sharpest contraction in world output since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
  • Comparison with 2009 slowdown: In contrast, the recession of 2009 saw world output contract by a mere 0.1%.
  • The IMF was blindsided by the comments from Chinese authorities and WHO.
  • Which is clear from the fact that as recently as February 22, the fund’s chief, Kristalina Georgieva, told G20 Finance Ministers that “global growth would be about 0.1 percentage points lower” than forecast in January.
  • China’s GDP, she projected, would expand by 5.6% this year, 0.4 percentage points slower than assumed in January.

Latest projections for China by the IMF

  • Last week, the IMF slashed China’s forecast to a growth of 1.2%, citing data on industrial production, retail sales, and fixed asset investment that, it said, suggested a contraction of about 8% in the first quarter.
  • China reported a 6.8% first-quarter contraction.
  • Still, in projecting an annual expansion in Asia’s largest economy, the fund is rather optimistically foreseeing a sharp rebound in activity over the rest of the year.

The following data of the revised projections gives us an idea about the extent to which the crisis has been damaging the economy. There are also suggestions about the strategy to deal with the crisis and that includes a stimulus package.

Projections and suggestions for India

  • On India, the IMF has cut its projection for growth in the fiscal year that started on April 1, from January’s 5.8%, to 1.9%.
  • This projection is base on two assumptions given below.
  • 1. This again appears predicated on the fund’s baseline scenario that assumes that the pandemic would ‘fade in the second half of 2020’, allowing containment efforts to be unwound and economic activity to normalise.
  • 2. Another key assumption by the IMF’s economists is the availability of policy support to nurture the revival once activity restarts.
  • Suggestion for India: Jettisoning its storied fiscal conservatism, the IMF’s chief economist, Gita Gopinath, has advocated ramping up a broad-based and coordinated stimulus once the disease has been contained.
  • Such measures would help avoid the errors of the Great Depression years when premature efforts to prune budget deficits prolonged the downturn.
  • Inadequate fiscal measures in India: In this context, India’s fiscal measures pale in terms of scale when compared with what several other nations have undertaken.


Given the size of the informal sector in India as well as the anticipated prolonged disruption in labour supply even in more formal parts of the economy, the Centre needs to proactively commit to a substantial stimulus package in order to ensure that once the economy reopens, it has the legs to run.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.