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India’s economy is collapsing. How bad will it get? (Updated)

NEW DELHI — How bad can things get in India? Experts say a full-blown financial crisis like the one that devastated the so-called “Asian tigers” in 1997 is unlikely. But some of India Inc's marquee names are in big trouble.

India: From breakout to breakdown nation. What went wrong?

NEW DELHI — As recently as 2010, India's economic rise was thought to be inevitable. Poverty? Call it a “low base.” Unemployed millions? Call that the “demographic dividend.” A runaway deficit? That's “inclusive growth.” Morgan Stanley's emerging market guru Ruchir Sharma cautioned against that kind of thinking. These days, as India's economy crumbles, those warnings are looking prescient.

What’s really holding back growth in India

India's economic growth slowdown will not last long as the government moves to make foreign investment easier and push forward new infrastructure projects, the country's prime minister said on Thursday. Economic growth in the world's largest democracy has slowed down dramatically, growing 5 percent last year after recording an average of nearly 8 percent over the last nine years.

Broken BRIC: Why are foreigners fleeing India’s economy?

NEW DELHI — Prime Minister Manmohan Singh knows that India’s flagging economy badly needs foreign capital.

India’s drive to boost investment just isn’t working

Asia's third largest economy is doing all it can to boost foreign investment to try and revive flagging growth. The problem, say analysts, is that the string of measures introduced in recent times are actually having the reverse effect and putting investors off.

India's growth to surpass China's by 2030: Report

A new US intelligence report says China's economy will be larger than America's in 20 years, but India's will be growing faster.
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US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke talks with Adi Godrej (R), President of Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) & Chairman of the Godrej Group during a breakfast round table meeting with Indian CEOs in Mumbai on October 10, 2012. (INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

China's economy will be larger than America's in 20 years, but India's will be growing faster, says a new US intelligence report issued on Monday.

“India’s rate of economic growth is likely to rise while China’s slows,” Reuters quoted the report, issued by the US government's National Intelligence Council, as saying. “In 2030 India could be the rising economic powerhouse that China is seen to be today. China’s current economic growth rate – 8 to 10 percent – will probably be a distant memory by 2030.”

Asia as a whole will also overtake North America and Europe combined in global power by 2030, the report said, while the economies of Europe, Japan and Russia are likely to continue their “slow relative declines.”

Despite the economic power of China, the authors expect the US to retain its superpower status because it still is the only country able to pull together coalitions and mobilize efforts to deal with global challenges, according to Reuters.

“China isn’t going to replace the US on a global level,” Mathew Burrows, counselor to the National Intelligence Council, said at a media briefing. “Being the largest economic power is important … [but] it isn’t necessarily the largest economic power that always is going to be the superpower.”

Take both predictions with a grain of salt, or a handful, if you believe Morgan Stanley's Ruchir Sharma, the author of “Breakout Nations.”

As Sharma writes in Monday's Economic Times:

History shows that only a third of all emerging nations are likely to grow fast in any decade, and are even less likely to continue growing for a second or third decade. The longer a boom lasts, the less likely it is to continue. The result is that, over time, emerging markets are not 'catching up' with the rich, as many think. Their average incomes are the same relative to rich-nation incomes in 1950. India's strong growth in the 2000s reduced the likelihood of a second good decade, and it is slowing.

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The Bollygarchs: Meet the 15 richest people in India

In the past few years a new word has appeared in India to describe the new mega-rich — "Bollygarchs". These Indian business-owners have become a new, distinct class of the international elite. But can they keep hold of their wealth?

Business Insider: Standard & Poor's knocks India

India's slow GDP growth and its political hurdles to economic policymaking are two key reasons that India risks losing its investment-grade rating, according to a new report from Standard & Poor's.

Top India CEO warns of slowdown

NEW DELHI — Leading CEO tells US executives it's easier to sell to Latin America or Russia or Hungary than to India.

Google's big India play: free Wi-Fi – for its sites

It could be a gamechanger, not to mention give Facebook a run for its users.

Google's big India play will offer web users free Wi-Fi — but only to access the heretofore lackluster Google+ social networking site and YouTube.

The Atlantic's tech blog suggests that the move is a transparent effort to push its profit-making tie-up with O-Zone Networks, rather than an altruistic part of its fast disappearing promise of more and more free services.

But the offer could nevertheless be a game changer for India.

The Atlantic reports:

Google's success so far has been built on a kind of strategic selfishness that has managed, pretty remarkably, to marry altruism with self-interest; by doing good, Google has done well. Really, really well. Little moves like its gift horse to India, however, suggest that the balance might be tipping toward something more traditionally corporate. Google's free Wi-Fi offer is a three-month pilot project at this point, but the company's in talks with O-Zone to make the access partnership an ongoing arrangement. The "Inc." is a powerful thing.

So, why could this be a gamechanger for India?

Indians love free stuff, of course — that's why the $5 whiskeys aboard American Airlines put a stop to unruly passengers demanding drinks. But it's more than that. A very small minority of Indians currently access the internet, but more and more folks like my boxing trainer/sparring partner have fancy phones ready for 3G and Wi-Fi services.

And social networking is huge here.

A recent study found that India already has 34 million Facebook users, while another noted that brand marketers can count on social networking responses from Asian users much more often than counterparts in the West.

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