India’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to decline to 6.5% in 2017-18, a drop of 0.6 percentage points from 2016-17, according to the Economic Survey 2017-18 released on January 29, 2018. The possibility of an increase in crude oil prices in the international market could have a dampening effect on the economy, it added.

India’s average GDP growth between 2014-17 was 7.3% against the global average of 3.4%. GDP is expected to rise between 7-7.5% by 2018-19, the survey said.

India’s per capita income is expected to grow at an annual average of 5.5% between 2015-17, from Rs 77,803 to Rs 86,660.

Education, employment and agriculture will be focus areas in the medium-term, said the survey.

The growth in gross value added of the agriculture sector--a measure of the value of farmers’ produce--is likely to decline from 4.9% in to 2.1% 2017-18. Extreme weather may have an impact on farmer incomes, which will be a hurdle for the government’s ambitious objective of doubling farm incomes by 2022.

“Extreme temperature shocks reduce farmer incomes by 4.3% and 4.1% during kharif and rabi, respectively, whereas extreme rainfall shocks reduce incomes by 13.7% and 5.5%,” the Survey said.

“We need to get more people out of agriculture to more productive activities in the rural and urban sectors,” said Arvind Subramanian, chief economic adviser, ministry of finance.

The expenditure on education as percentage of GDP declined 0.4 percentage-points from 3.1% in 2012-13 to 2.7% in 2017-18, but India has made significant progress in quantitative indicators such as enrolments, completion rates and physical infrastructure like school buildings/classrooms, toilet facilities and appointment of teachers, according to the Survey. .

The survey mentioned that goods and services tax (GST) has provided a new perspective to the Indian economy and added new data. GST has increased the number of unique indirect taxpayers by more than 50% or 3.4 million. Presently, there are 9.8 million unique GST registrants.

For the first time, a chapter on science and technology was added to the Economic Survey 2017-18.

India’s sex ratio at last birth (females per 100 births), which refers to the youngest child of the family or most-recent birth, declined 0.4 percentage points over a decade to 2015-16. Of 100 births, 39 were female, revealing son-preference attitudes still persist, the Survey said.

In other words, a higher prevalence of males among the youngest children in families proves that after a son is born, there is little preference to have more kids. Referring to the phenomenon as the son “meta” preference, the Survey suggests that while families avoid sex-selective abortion, fertility “stopping rules”--having children until the desired number of sons are born--are still rampant.

“This meta-preference leads naturally to the notional category of “unwanted” girls which is estimated at over 21 million,” the Survey said. “In some sense, once born, the lives of women are improving but society still appears to want fewer of them to be born.”

On this indicator, India is 9.5 percentage points lower than other comparable economies, the Survey showed.

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Correction: The headline has been corrected to reflect that India's GDP growth--and not its GDP, as an earlier version suggested--is set to decline. We regret the error.

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