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The services sector has been at the forefront of the rapid growth of the Indian economy, contributing nearly 63 percent of the GDP in 2007-08. The sector has come to play an increasingly dominant role in the economy accounting for 59.6 percent of the overall average growth in GDP in the last eight years between 2000-01 and 2007-08.

As per the Central Statistical Organisation, the services sector has continued to grow in the fourth quarter of 2008-09.

  • Trade, hotels, transport and communication grew 6.3 percent in January-March 2009 from a year earlier, vs. 5.9 percent in October-December 2008.
  • Financing, insurance, real estate and business services grew an annual 9.5 percent in January-March, 2009 vs. 8.3 percent in October-December 2008.

Lead indicators suggest that the pace of expansion in the services sector activity is likely to be sustained even in the next financial year.

  • Foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) during January to June 2009 were 2.5 million.
  • Railways freight traffic increased to 833.03 million tonnes during fiscal 2008-09 from 794.21 million tonnes carried during 2007-08, an increase of 4.89 percent.
  • At the end of April 2009, the total number of telephone connections reached 441.47 million, registering an overall tele-density of 37.94.
  • Cargo handled at major ports during April–December 2008–09 has been 391.80 MT as against 378.82 MT in the corresponding period last fiscal.

The prospects for growth in the Indian services sector over the next year continues to be robust, according to a survey by KPMG, conducted across the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries in spring 2009. The survey revealed that 31.3 percent Indian companies saw their activity levels improving. Around 37 percent forecast new order growth in one year’s time, compared with 16 percent that anticipate a fall. Even capital expenditure at Indian services firms is anticipated to rise in the year ahead, with 43 percent of companies saying they plan to increase spending on fixed assets. Revenues are expected to grow by 31.1 percent of firms, while 32.5 percent believe their profits will increase.
The growth of the Indian services sector has not been confined to the domestic market alone. It is also reflected on its trade front. India's share in the global trade of services increased from 2 percent in 2004 to 2.7 percent in 2006. Particularly impressive has been the broad-based growth of services on the trade front, which is expected to continue even in the next fiscal.

  • Exports for the Information Technology (IT) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sectors are expected to touch US$ 60 billion–US$ 62 billion in 2010-11, according to the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM). In its 'Strategic Review 2009' titled 'The IT-BPO Sector in India', NASSCOM has said in the current fiscal (2008-09), exports were likely to touch US$ 47 billion. Exports stood at US$ 31.4 billion in 2007-08.
  • US-based healthcare companies are expected to send more information technology projects to India, in order to bring down their costs of operations, according to a study done by Offshoring Research Network (ORN).
  • Despite global economic downtrend, the medical transcription (MT) industry is looking for a further growth buoyed by a NASSCOM report stating that recession has not hit the healthcare industry. As per a NASSCOM report, the MT industry will be worth US$ 798.1 million by 2010 and could employ as many as 50,000 people.
  • India is also likely to retain its tag as the back office of the world, amid competition from its neighboring country China, as per a report by Deutsche Bank Research. At present, India is in a comfortable position as the share of IT and IT-based services in China's export revenues comes to only just above three percent, compared to over 26 percent in India.
The services sector accounted for a huge 24.3 percent of the total foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow in 2008. In actual terms, the FDI inflow to this sector has grown 32 times in the past five years from a mere US$ 214.78 million in 2004 to US$ 6.78 billion in 2008.

The sector is also set to witness an increase in investments, with the government approving 513 special economic zones (SEZs) till August 2008, of which majority of them are for IT and information technology enabled services (ITeS) sectors.

Some of the major investments in the service sector include:

  • Tata Consulting Services (TCS) has signed a five-year contract with UK-based automobile maker, Volkswagen Group to deliver IT transformation and support services.
  • Chicago-based Global Hyatt Corporation has outsourced part of its financial and accounting transaction services to Genpact.
  • The US$ 30 billion pharma company, AstraZeneca has outsourced its end-to-end maintenance services for a variety of corporate services (such as human relations, finance) to Bangalore-based Infosys.
  • The US$ 3 billion Lulu Group has entered into a management contract with Marriot Hotels to run its under construction property in Kochi. The hotel is coming up as part of the US$ 239.31 million hypermarket-multiplex-airlines tower complex, which is being built by the Dubai-based group.
  • UK-based Clifford Chance, the world's largest law firm, and AZB & Partners, an Indian law firm, have entered into an informal tie up which will involve client referral arrangements, joint training, consultation and marketing.

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