India slips down 10 places to 68th rank on global competitiveness index


India has moved down 10 places to rank 68th in a global index that measures competitiveness, as it fared poorly in most parameters such as infrastructure, the adoption of information, communications and technology (ICT), financial markets, skills, and innovation capability, compared to last year.

Besides, the country could not keep pace with many small but closely positioned nations such as Colombia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey, showed the Global Competitiveness Report 2019, released by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF) on Wednesday. As many as 141 countries were surveyed for the index.

On macroeconomic stability, however, India’s position improved to 43rd from 49th in 2018. This came at a time when analysts have expressed doubts over the government’s ability to meet its fiscal deficit target of 3.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) for 2019-20. Keeping inflation in check seems to have worked in favour of India, which was the top-most country on this front, scoring 100 per cent as against 99.9 per cent last year. The other segment within macroeconomic stability in which the country’s ranking improved was debt dynamics.

Product market efficiency, where India improved its ranking to 101 from 110 last year, is undermined by a lack of trade openness, the WEF said. These were the only two broad parameters where India bettered its ranking and score in 2019 compared to last year.

Within the parameter of institutions, the freedom of the press saw India’s rank dropping to 114th from 112th.

In the overall index, India scored 61.4 out of 100, as against 62.1 last year.

The WEF said the drop was only partly the consequence of a relatively small decline in the score, by 0.7 points, and more significantly, the progress made by several countries ranked close to India: Colombia with 62.7 points (ranked 57th), Azerbaijan (62.7 points at 58th), and Turkey (62.1 points at 61st).

Within the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations, India trailed China by 40 places and 14 points. South Africa was at 60th position with 62.4 points. Along with Brazil, India was among the low-performing countries in the grouping, said the WEF. Brazil was placed at 71st with 60.9 points. Russia was at the 43rd rank with 68.7 score.

On the crucial financial sector parameter, India’s position deteriorated to 40th from 35th. However, the WEF said India’s financial sector was relatively deep and stable despite the high delinquency rate (10 per cent of the loan portfolio — ranked at 106th), which contributed to the weakening of its banking system.

India performed well in innovation, securing the 35th position, well ahead of most emerging economies and on a par with several advanced economies.

The WEF cautioned that emerging economies with growing innovation capacity such as China, India and Brazil must also better balance technological integration and human capital investments. This contrasts with major shortcomings in some of the basic enablers of competitiveness. ICT adoption is limited (120th rank).

India must also grow its skills base, where it ranked 107th, the WEF said.

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