The economic impact of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic in India has been largely disruptive. India’s growth in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year 2020 went down to 3.1% according to the Ministry of Statistics. The Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India said that this drop is mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic effect on the Indian economy.

The World Bank and rating agencies had initially revised India’s growth for FY2021 with the lowest figures India has seen in three decades since India’s economic liberalization in the 1990s. However after the announcement of the economic package in mid-May, India’s GDP estimates were downgraded even more to negative figures, signalling a deep recession. (The ratings of over 30 countries have been downgraded during this period.) On 26 May, CRISIL announced that this will perhaps be India’s worst recession since independence.

Unemployment rose from 6.7% on 15 March to 26% on 19 April and then back down to pre-lockdown levels by mid-June. During the lockdown, an estimated 14 crore (140 million) people lost employment while salaries were cut for many others. More than 45% of households across the nation have reported an income drop as compared to the previous year. The Indian economy was expected to lose over ₹32,000 crore (US$4.5 billion) every day during the first 21-days of complete lockdown, which was declared following the coronavirus outbreak.

Under complete lockdown, less than a quarter of India’s $2.8 trillion economic movement was functional. Up to 53% of businesses in the country were projected to be significantly affected. Supply chains have been put under stress with the lockdown restrictions in place; initially, there was a lack of clarity in streamlining what an “essential” is and what is not. Those in the informal sectors and daily wage groups have been at the most risk. A large number of farmers around the country who grow perishables also faced uncertainty.

The Government of India announced a variety of measures to tackle the situation, from food security and extra funds for healthcare and for the states, to sector related incentives and tax deadline extensions. On 26 March a number of economic relief measures for the poor were announced totaling over ₹170,000 crore (US$24 billion). The next day the Reserve Bank of India also announced a number of measures which would make available ₹374,000 crore (US$52 billion) to the country’s financial system. The World Bank and Asian Development Bank approved support to India to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Globally in a poll by the ‘Edelman Trust Barometer’, out of the 13,200+ people polled, 67% agreed that “The government’s highest priority should be saving as many lives as possible even if it means the economy will recover more slowly”; that is, life should come before livelihood. For India, the poll showed a ratio of 64% to 36%, where 64% of the people agreed that saving as many lives as possible was a priority, and 36% agreed that saving jobs and restarting the economy was the priority.

India’s overall economic package was announced as ₹20 lakh crore (US$280 billion), 10% of India’s GDP. The package, though announced on 12 May by the Prime Minister, included previous government actions, including the RBI announcements.The previous RBI announcements included around ₹8 lakh crore (US$110 billion) liquidity. the economic package also included the Finance Minister announcement of a package totaling ₹170,000 crore (US$24 billion) on 26 March.The strategy of combining fiscal and monetary, liquidity measures was defended by the government. Sitharaman explained that other countries had also done the same.

In India up to 53% of businesses have specified a certain amount of impact of shutdowns caused due to COVID-19 on operations, as per a FICCI survey in March. By 24 April the unemployment rate had increased nearly 19% within a month, reaching 26% unemployment across India, according to the ‘Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy’. Around 140,000,000 (14 crores) Indians lost employment during the lockdown. More than 45% households across the nation reported an income drop as compared to the previous year. Various business such as hotels and airlines cut salaries and laid off employees.