Narendra Modi’s India has become more competitive—but still lags most Asian economies

Walking the talk?
Walking the talk?
Image: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
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Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s promise of big bang reforms and speedy economic revival has managed to impress global institutions and investors. And a new study called The Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF) is further proof.

India has climbed 16 spots to rank 55th among 140 countries on the WEF’s global competitiveness ranking. The WEF defines competitiveness as “the set of institutions, policies and factors that determine the level of productivity of an economy, which in turn sets the level of prosperity that the country can achieve.”

Switzerland tops the ranking, followed by Singapore, the US, Germany and Netherlands in the top five spots.

But compared to other Asian countries—including Japan, China, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia—India is still behind. And even much smaller economies like Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan are ranked higher than India.

India’s current rank is also lower than its standing in 2010, when it ranked 49th out of 133 nations. Last year, it ranked 71st out of 144.

This “dramatic reversal,” according to the WEF, is due to the momentum initiated by Modi. His “pro-business, pro-growth, and anti-corruption stance has improved the business community’s sentiment toward the government,” it said.

“The quality of India’s institutions is judged more favourably, although business leaders still consider corruption to be the biggest obstacle to doing business in the country. India’s performance in the macroeconomic stability pillar has improved, although the situation remains worrisome,” the WEF added.

There are areas in the economy which need substantial progress, the report underlined.

For instance, India ranks 120th when it comes to technological readiness—including factors like internet penetration, broadband availability, mobile users, and technology adoption—and 103rd in labour market efficiency.

Here’s how India ranks across a range of areas: