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India 2015: MARKET INTELLIGENCE | Rising India

Indians build a modern state on the firm foundations of an ancient civilization

From its independence in 1947 through its first four decades as a sovereign state, and despite some reform attempts, India functioned as a centralized highly regulated economy. By 1991, the country was in political and economic turmoil.

Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated while campaigning for reelection. The country was close to default, unable to pay its foreign debts. India agreed to reform its economy as a condition of a bailout by the International Monetary Fund.

In just 25 years, India moved from the brink of bankruptcy to become one of the world’s most dynamic markets. The transformation began when the India National Congress party won the 1991 election and Prime Minister Narasimha Rao appointed Oxford-educated economist Manmohan Singh as finance minister.

Singh implemented economic reforms and eventually served 10 years as prime minister, from 2004 to 2014. Change happened incrementally, subject to the competing interests of a robust democracy.

Frustrated with the pace of change, Indians elected Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Narendra Modi as prime minister in 2014, deposing the Indian National Congress Party, which had governed India almost continuously since 1947.

Modi presented a vision of transformation, opening the country to greater foreign investment and launching programs to build a more inclusive, equitable and technologically advanced society.

In 2014, with GDP growing at an annual rate of 7.5 percent, faster than any other major country, the economy spiked to $2 trillion. It had taken India 60 years to reach $1 trillion, only seven years earlier.