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India

India vaulted several spots to break into the top 30 countries in Bloomberg’s COVID Resilience Ranking of the best and worst places to be amid the pandemic, marking a turnaround for a country that saw the world’s fastest-growing COVID outbreak earlier this year. The survey measures places where the virus is being handled most effectively, with the least social and economic upheaval. India had set a world record of 400,000-plus cases a day in early May as the Delta variant ripped through our country of 1.35 billion people and pushed its healthcare system to near-collapse, but new infections have now dropped to less than 7000. With over 50% of the population double-vaccinated, it has been a remarkable comeback story for India.

The reopening of business and inter-country travel was again reflected in the GDP figure for the July-September quarter, for which growth of 8.4% was recorded. The previous quarter had registered 20.1% growth - the highest in history. India’s merchandise exports in November rose by 26.49% to around US$ 30 billion whereas imports amounted to US$ 53.15 billion, an increase of 57.18% when compared to the same period last year.

The stock market continues to trade at the higher end of values, though news of the Omicron strain has seen a couple of sessions with downslides. The country’s forex reserves stand at a healthy US$ 640 billion, which gives additional reinforcement to the rupee in a period of global uncertainty resulting from the discovery of the new COVID variant. The government is pushing for faster completion of all mega infrastructure projects, spurring internal demand and consumption significantly.

So while the overall macro-economic landscape remains safe and strong, concerns within the industry have started to build up. Being closely connected to the automotive sector, secondary metal producers saw muted demand from Indian OEMs and die-casters as sales in October plummeted owing to delivery constraints on critical components. Similarly, export demand from China and the Far East remained tepid, which caused interruptions in exports of intermediary grades like ingots and billets.

Interactions between the trade and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) are happening on a continuous basis at the start of the process of standardizing metal scraps. Once again, it needs to be realized that this is a great opportunity for India to fast-track its sustainability and decarbonization goals by having a vibrant recycling industry which also positively impacts the country’s socio-economic transformation and serves as an economical and naturally desirable raw material source for consuming industries. So instead of blindly following the examples of some other countries, India needs to understand how it can optimally benefit by creating its own framework which induces growth. Instead of setting up impractical, higher thresholds for quality in scrap, we should work on an effective ecosystem which allows optimal recoveries from complex materials in environmentally-friendly ways. The focus should be on treatment/processes and proper disposal. Our sincere hope is that India does not squander this opportunity.