India may turn into a $2-trillion economy by the end of this financial year, provided the rupee remains below 50.79 against the dollar during this period. The government has projected India's gross domestic product (GDP) for 2012-13 at Rs 101 lakh crore, against Rs 88 lakh crore in 2011-12—a growth of 14.7 per cent.
In 2011-12, when the rupee stood at an average of 47.95 against the dollar, the size of the economy was $1.84 trillion at current prices (including indirect taxes). A growth of 14.7 per cent would mean the economy would expand to $2.11 trillion.
The catch, however, is the rupee stood at 47.95 against the dollar in 2011-12, while its average exchange rate against the dollar so far this financial year is 53.24. At this rate, by the end of 2012-13, India would be a $1.9-trillion economy. Any further depreciation in the rupee would further reduce the size of the economy in dollar terms.
On Thursday, the rupee fell to a record low of 56.52 against the dollar. It has depreciated 14 per cent from its high this year, exerting pressure on the trade and current accounts.
With limited foreign exchange reserves and reforms unlikely, analysts expect the rupee to depreciate further in the coming days, with a recovery unlikely anytime soon. “The high inflation, sluggish growth, poor flows and the strengthening dollar index would continue to drive the rupee to new lows. We expect the rupee to breach 57-levels soon,” said Abhishek Goenka, chief executive, India Forex Advisors.
In 2010-11, when the rupee stood at an average of 45.57 against the dollar, India’s GDP stood at $1.68 trillion, while it was $1.36 trillion in 2009-10, at an average exchange rate of Rs 47.42/dollar. GDP growth at constant prices (excluding indirect taxes) stood at 5.3 per cent in the quarter ended March 31, with growth in financial year 2011-12 at 6.5 per cent—the lowest in nine years.
“This persistent sluggishness in the economy puts the Reserve Bank of India in a conundrum. It has to cut interest rates to stimulate growth. However, it can’t cut much, as this would lead to more depreciation in the rupee,” said Bundeep Singh Rangar, chairman of London-based consulting firm IndusView.
Though the central bank had cut policy rates by 50 basis points in April, it had warned it saw limited scope for more any cuts, partly because inflation remained high.