India’s industrial production (IIP), which measures the country’s factory output, expanded at a rapid clip in November to hit a 17-month high, data released on Jan.12 showed. A month before the budget, these robust numbers could be a sign that the economy is back on track.
The Narendra Modi government, however, needs to thank the acute cases of chronic indigestion plaguing Indians for this uptick in growth.
That’s because digestive enzymes, antacids, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which are used for treating symptoms of ulcers and heartburn, are the highest contributors to India’s industrial growth. In terms of industries, the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products and medicines has shown the highest growth at 39.5%, as per a release by the press information bureau. And as per item groups, digestive enzymes and antacids showed an uptick of 110.7%. The other major item groups like electricity, sugar, cement, etc, all lag far behind.
These digestive enzymes and antacids hold only 0.22% weight compared to segments such as electricity that account for 7.99%. However, despite the minimal clout enjoyed by these medicines, if they are able to move the IIP needle in a significant way, it suggests that there may have been growth in antacid medicines of monumental proportions.
This, though, isn’t the first month where antacids have played such a crucial role in the IIP growth. Even in the previous months of the 2017 financial year, it had been the top contributor to growth.
“Historically speaking we have seen several such instances when some industry crops up and it starts accounting for a lot of industrial growth,” the chief economist at a rating agency told Quartz, requesting anonymity. “Once upon a time it was hair oil, as if everyone was going bald in India, then it became alarm clocks and now it is antacids. But now that this antacid trend has started, it will continue for at least 12 months due to the low base effect.”
Till then, India’s IIP numbers will remain a bit gassy.