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India economy beats expectations with 8.4% growth

India has retained its title of the world’s fastest growing major economy as it expanded 8.4% in the last three months of 2023, from a year earlier.

The data comes as the country is set to hold a general election this year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter, that it shows “the strength of Indian economy and its potential”.

India is forecast to overtake Japan and Germany as the world’s third biggest economy in the next few years.

The better-than-expected growth was led by a strong performance by the country’s manufacturers, with the sector expanding by 11.6% in the period.

Private consumption, which makes up almost two-thirds of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), also rose by 3.5%.

People’s spending power was affected last year due to high prices of staple foods such as onions. That led to the government introducing a number of measures to help curb food price inflation.

In recent years, Prime Minister Modi has raised government spending on infrastructure and offered incentives to boost the manufacturing of phones, electronics, drones and semiconductors to help India compete on the international market.

On Thursday, the government gave the greenlight to the construction of three semiconductor plants worth 1.26 trillion rupees ($15.2bn; £12bn) by firms including Indian conglomerate Tata.

But the agricultural sector, which accounts for about 15% of the $3.7tn (£2.93tn) economy, continued to struggle because of weak monsoon rains.

Some farmers have been protesting to demand minimum crop prices.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects India’s economy to expand by 6.5% in 2024, compared with 4.6% for China.

Beijing is under growing pressure to unveil stimulus measures to support the world’s second biggest economy which is facing a number of challenges including a property market crisis, high youth unemployment and falling prices, known as deflation.