India outpaces China in 2015 economic growth

India’s economy grew at an average rate of 7.5% in 2015, faster than the 6.9% growth in China, official figures show.

In recent history it has been unusual, but not unprecedented, for India to grow faster than China.

According to the IMF it happened in 1981,1989,1990 and 1999, and 2015 was the first instance in this millennium.

India’s government said growth in the October to December quarter was 7.3%, a slight drop on previous quarters which were revised sharply higher.

Even though the economy lost steam in the last quarter, its pace of expansion was faster than the growth posted by China in the same quarter.

India measures its economy over a fiscal rather than a calendar year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said growth for the fiscal year ending March 2016 is forecast to accelerate to 7.6%.

‘Counterintuitive’

However, some economists say the latest growth figures are at odds with other data for Asia’s third largest economy, including weak exports, railway freight, cement production and investment and flat order books.

Ritika Mankar, an economist at Ambit Capital, said: “The new GDP series and the information it is conveying, not just in terms of level but also in terms of the direction, seems counterintuitive.”

Shubhada Rao, chief economist at Yes Bank in Mumbai, said the figures were “difficult to correlate” with other data, including a contraction in agriculture.

A year ago India’s statistics ministry revised GDP growth rates higher – closer to that of China – by updating the base year used for price comparisons.

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