India's GDP shows continuing slowdown

The BBC's Sameer Hashmi says this factory has seen less trade recently - but the Indian Prime Minister hopes the weaker rupee will boost exports

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India's economy continues to slowdown according to the latest government figures.

For the April-to-June quarter, it grew at a rate of 4.4%, compared with the same period in the previous year.

It was a weaker performance than most economists had been expecting and was a slowdown from the first three months of the year, when growth was 4.8%.

A contraction in mining and manufacturing activity was behind the slowdown.

Friday's figures show the economy is now expanding at the slowest rate since 2009.

"We do not wish to sound alarmist, but concern on the economy can hardly be overstated," said Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry, in reaction to the latest figures.

"The economy needs the undivided attention of policy makers," she said.

It adds to the pressure on Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who earlier addressed parliament over the nation's economic problems.

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Growth may have slowed from the heady days of 7%-plus growth, which was more than double America's in the late 1990s and 2000s, but it's still a decent clip”

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In his statement to parliament, made before the figures were released, the prime minister said India was not facing a repeat of the crisis in 1991.

Back then, India's foreign currency reserves became so depleted that it had to borrow from the International Monetary Fund to pay its import bills.

"Growth will pick up in the second half, barring extreme unforeseen eventualities," the prime minister said.

He also said that a strong monsoon would boost harvests and help reduce food inflation.

Mr Singh was also keen to reassure the nation over the falling value of the Indian rupee, saying it was "a matter of concern".

The rupee hit a record low against the dollar on Wednesday and has fallen more than 20% this year.

That fall is damaging for the economy, as India imports large amounts of fuel and foodstuffs and the weak rupee makes those imports more expensive.

Mr Singh said: "Clearly, we need to reduce our appetite for gold, economise [on] the use of petroleum products and take steps to increase our exports."

Repercussions

He also blamed the fall in the rupee on "external" factors.

The prime minister highlighted the impact of developments in the US, where the economy is improving and officials at the central bank have started to talk about cutting back on stimulus measures.

US Dollar v Indian Rupee

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"In a more equitable world order, it is only appropriate that the developed countries - in pursuing their fiscal and monetary policies - should take into account the repercussions on the economy of emerging countries," he said.

The Indian government has raised the import duty on gold and increased deposit rates to stem the outflow of money.

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