Economic Survey 2023 - Definition, Importance & Highlights

The Economic Survey of India is an annual document released by the Finance Ministry, Government of India. It is a very important document from the IAS Exam perspective.

This article will discuss in detail the Economic Survey, highlights of the Economic Survey 2023, and its importance in the UPSC and other government exams.

Highlights of previous years’ Economic Survey 2022-2021 are also provided in this article.

Economic Survey 2023:- Download PDF Here

Are you preparing for UPSC 2023? Complement your Indian Economy preparation for the upcoming exam with the help of the following links:

Table of Contents:

Economic Survey Recommended Video
Economic Survey – Introduction
Importance of Economic Survey
How to read the Economic Survey for UPSC?
Economic Survey 2023 Highlights
Economic Survey 2022 Highlights
Economic Survey 2021 Highlights
Economic Survey 2020 Highlights
Economic Survey 2019 Highlights

Economic Survey Introduction

The Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance presents the Economic Survey of India in Parliament every year, just before the Union Budget. This document is submitted to both houses of Parliament during the Budget Session.

The Economic Survey reviews the developments in the Indian economy over the previous 12 months. It highlights the policy initiatives of the government, summarizes the performance on major development programs, and shows the growth prospects of the economy.

It is generally presented by the Chief Economic Advisor (CEA). However, this year (2022), it has been prepared by the Principal Economic Advisor Sanjeev Sanyal.

Importance of Economic Survey

The Economic Survey is a vital source for the UPSC exam, especially for the subjects Indian economy, polity, as well as, government schemes.

  • The Economic Survey discusses all the major government initiatives with explanations. All the dynamic and theoretical questions can be traced to this.
  • As per the new trend, the economy and the environment are going hand in hand. So questions can come from that perspective also.
  • Students can imbibe actual phrases used in the Economic Survey to frame answers for UPSC Mains Examination.
  • The Survey analyses and gives reasons for many issues happening around. Deep knowledge of the current policies and programs of the government also helps an aspirant to write meaningful essays.
  • Furthermore, the issues appraised in the Economic Survey and reforms suggested are often implemented by the government in future initiatives. A good example of this would be the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), which was suggested in previous Economic Surveys and has been implemented by the government.
  • Good phrases from the Survey and the use of appropriate language can be used in the exam to fetch a high score. For example – “Good economics is good politics”, “twin balance sheet problem”, “translating potential into actuality” “ Chakravuyh challenge”, etc.
  • Adding important and relevant facts and figures significantly boost marks in General Studies Paper-III.
  • Students should not miss reading the Economic Survey if they wish to clear the UPSC Prelims, as many questions are seen to be directly taken from this document.

How to read the Economic Survey for UPSC?

The pattern of Economic Survey

The Economic Survey usually consists of two volumes:

  1. Economic Survey, Volume I: Deals with conceptual and analytical issues.
  2. Economic Survey, Volume II: Deals with the state of economy and sectors of the economy in some detail with more focus on immediate issues and statistics.

Please note in 2022, there is only 1 volume of the Survey.

Tips to read the Economic Survey:

  • Read after a basic study: Students should have a basic understanding of economics, especially the basic terms like GDP, inflation, fiscal drag, etc. before moving on to studying the Economic Survey.
  • Read the Preface thoroughly: The Preface of the Economic Survey is like a summary of the document. Reading it will help you get an essence of what is inside and help you understand it better.
  • Boxes and Arguments: The document contains many boxes that are particularly important for the UPSC exam. From here, questions have been asked directly. Also, the data can be used to augment and support your answers. The Survey also gives arguments such as why a scheme or initiative is important, how it can be bettered, and also recommendations, which can be used in the mains answers.
  • Break into small topics: If you think reading the Economic Survey is overwhelming, it can be covered easily by breaking into smaller topics. You can categorize the content in the Survey into topics such as welfare schemes, macroeconomic tangibles, and demographics, agriculture, urbanization, social empowerment, figures (like unemployment data, GDP, inflation, food inflation, fiscal deficit, current account deficit, the balance of payments, foreign reserves, trade balance, etc.)

Economic Survey 2023 Highlights

Factors Analysis
Growth estimates
  • The economy is expected to grow at 7% in real terms for 2022-23.
GDP estimates
  • India’s GDP is expected to be in the range of 6-6.8% in 2023-24.
  • The survey projects a baseline GDP growth of  6.5% in real terms in FY24.
  • RBI estimated 6.8% of retail inflation for 2022-23.
Fiscal Deficit
  • The fiscal deficit of the Union government has moderated at 6.7% of GDP in FY22.
  • It is expected to reach 6.4% of GDP in FY23.
Gross Tax Revenue
  • It registered a YoY growth of 15.5% from April to November 2022.
GST collections
  • GST collections increased at 24.8% on a YoY basis during April – December 2022.
Capital Expenditure (Capex) of central government
  • It increased by 63.4% from April to November 2022.
  • It was a major growth driver of the Indian Economy in FY22.
  • It has steadily increased from a long-term average of 1.7% of GDP (FY09 to FY20) to 2.5% of GDP in FY22 PA.
Monetary Management
  • Gross Non-Performing Assets (GNPA) are at a five-year low of 5%.
  • RBI raised the policy rate by cumulative 225 basis points (bps) since April 2022.
  • Yield on a 10-year government bond is stable.
  • Capital-to-Risk Weighted Asset Ratio (CRAR) stands at 16.0.
Credit Growth to MSME
  • The credit growth to Micro, Small, and Medium enterprises was high at 30.6% on average from January to November 2022.
Service Sector Growth
  • The growth rate of GVA at basic prices in 2021-22 was 8.4% (Provisional estimate).
  • It is 9.1% in 2021-22 as per the first advanced estimate.
Urban Unemployment Rate
  • According to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), the urban unemployment rate decreased from 9.8% in the quarter ending September 2021 to 7.2% in the quarter ending September 2022.
  • Merchandise exports stood at US$ 332.8 bn for April-December 2022. This was a growth of 16% from 2021.
  • India is the 7th largest service exporter in the world.
  • The share of exports of goods and services as a percent of GDP in the first half of 2022-23 has been the highest since 2016.
  • According to World Bank, India was the largest recipient of remittances in the world in 2022.
Indian Economy Snapshot

Image source: PIB


State of Economy: Recovery Complete

  • India has recovered from three global shocks, the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict leading to rising inflation, and the rate hike by the U.S. Federal Bank.
  • Increased private consumption, central government spending (capex), and crowding in the private capex led by the strengthening of the balance sheets of the corporates were the major drivers of growth of the Indian economy.
  • The rebound in consumption was engineered by near-universal COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Schemes like PM-Kisan and PM Garib Kalyan Yojana have helped in ensuring food security. Moreover, the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) showed improvement in rural welfare indicators like gender, fertility, etc.

Fiscal Stability

  • The government of India adopted a holistic policy towards fiscal stability in the past few years by transforming the tax ecosystem, rationalizing GST, simplifying tax compliance, etc.


  • Though India’s retail inflation rate peaked at 7.8% in April 2022, it was one of the lowest in the world.
  • The rise in prices was capped by various interventions like:
    • Phase-wise reduction in the export duty of petrol and diesel.
    • Import duty on major inputs was brought to zero.
    • Exports were regulated. For instance, exports of wheat products were prohibited.

Social Infrastructure and Employment

  • The budgeted expenditure of the Central and State Governments on the health sector increased to 2.1% of GDP in FY23 (BE) from 1.6% in FY21.
  • Social sector expenditure reached approximately Rs. 21.3 lakh crore in FY23 (Budget Estimates, BE).
  • Unemployment rates reduced from 5.8% in 2018-19 to 4.2% in 2020-21.
  • The out-of-pocket expenditure as a percentage of total health expenditure decreased from 64.2% in FY14 to 48.2% in FY19.
  • Around 220 crore COVID vaccines were administered (as on 6 January 2023).
  • There are more than 22 crore beneficiaries that have been verified under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme (04 January 2023). And about 1.54 lakh Health and Wellness Centres have been operationalized across India under the Ayushman Bharat initiative.

Climate Change and Environment

  • India has achieved its target of 40% installed electric capacity from non-fossil fuels ahead of 2030.
  • LIFE– Lifestyle for Environment initiative was launched by the government of India.
  • Initiatives like Sovereign Green Gold Bond and National Green Hydrogen Mission were also launched.
  • It is highlighted that the installed solar power capacity reached 61.6 GW on October 2022.
  • India is becoming a favoured destination for renewables. For instance, investments in 7 years stand at US$ 78.1 billion.

Agriculture and Food Management

  • Private investment in agriculture has risen to 9.3% in 2020-21.
  • The production of food grains has consistently increased. It stood at around 315.7 million tonnes in 2021-22.
  • The government is promoting several initiatives in different domains like organic farming, e-NAM, post-harvest support, etc.


  • Overall gross value added by the industrial sector has increased.
  • Electronics exports increased threefold. It rose from US $4.4 bn in FY19 to US $11.6 bn in FY22.
  • India became the second-largest mobile phone manufacturer globally.
  • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows into the pharma industry in India have increased by nearly four times.
  • To promote ease of doing business, around 39000 compliances were reduced and more than 3500 provisions were decriminalized.
  • The government also introduced the Production linked incentive scheme for 14 sectors.

Service Sector

  • India was one of the top ten services exporting countries in 2021. Its overall share in world commercial services exports increased from 3% in 2015 to 4% in 2021.
  • FDI equity inflows in the services sector in FY22 were approximately US$ 7.1 billion.
  • There was sustained growth in the real estate sector.
  • Hotel occupancy and the tourism sector significantly revived after the pandemic.
  • India’s e-commerce market is projected to grow at 18% annually till 2025.

External Sector

  • India diversified its markets and increased its exports to countries like Brazil, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia.
  • CEPA with UAE and ECTA with Australia came into force in 2022. This would further strengthen India’s position in the global market.
  • As of December 2022, India’s forex reserves stood at US$ 563 bn covering 9.3 months of imports. It should be noted that India is the sixth largest foreign reserves holder in the world.

Physical and Digital Infrastructure

  • The government is looking forward to various schemes/initiatives for infrastructure development like:
  • In the field of logistics, various initiatives have been launched like the National Logistic Policy, Kisan rail, Inland Vessels Act, etc.
  • To strengthen the digital infrastructure of the country, GEM, e-NAM, and UMANG have transformed the marketplace and have enabled citizens to access services across sectors.

Other Important facts

  • UPI-based transactions grew 121% by value and 115% by volume between 2019-22.
  • There was a 200% increase in rural internet subscriptions between 2015 and 2021.

Economic Survey 2022 Highlights

The Economic Survey 2022 was presented by Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman. Presenting the highlights of the survey for the year 2022. One of the themes of this year’s Economic Survey is ‘Agile policy’.

Factors Analysis
Growth Estimates
  • The Indian economy is estimated to grow by 9.2 percent in real terms in 2021-22.
GDP Estimates
  • GDP is projected to grow by 8-8.5 percent in real terms in 2022-23. 
  • It also noted that the GDP growth rate contracted by 7.3 per cent in 2020-21.
Strong revenue
  • The survey pointed out that revenues have witnessed a strong revival in FY22. 
  • This means that the government has fiscal room to provide support if necessary. 
  • Exports are estimated to grow by 16.5 percent in 2021-22.
  • Imports are expected to grow by 29.4 per cent in 2021-22.
Monetary Management 
  • Repo rate was maintained at 4 per cent in 2021-22.
  • The Gross Non-Performing Advances ratio of Scheduled Commercial Banks (SCBs) declined from 11.2 per cent at the end of 2017-18 to 6.9 per cent at the end of September, 2021.
  • Capital to risk-weighted asset ratio of SCBs continued to increase from 13 per cent in 2013-14 to 16.54 per cent at the end of September 2021.
Prices and Inflation
  • The average headline CPI-Combined inflation moderated to 5.2 per cent in 2021-22 (April-December) from 6.6 per cent in the corresponding period of 2020-21.
  • The decline in retail inflation was led by the easing of food inflation.
  • Food inflation averaged at a low of 2.9 percent in 2021-22 (April to December) as against 9.1 per cent in the corresponding period last year.
Capital Spending
  • According to the Economic Survey, there can be a sharp increase in capital spending by the government as a demand and supply-enhancing measure.
  • Total consumption is estimated to have grown by 7.0 per cent in 2021-22 with significant contributions in the form of government spending.
  • Agriculture and allied sectors remained the silver lining during the Covid-19 pandemic and are expected to grow by 3.9 per cent in 2021-22 after growing 3.6 per cent in the previous year.
Service Sector
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the services sector the hardest. This sector is projected to grow by 8.2 per cent this financial year following the previous fiscal’s 8.4 per cent contraction.
Industrial Sector
  • The growth of the industrial sector has been estimated at 11.2 per cent in FY22.
  • The top five sectors which capture around 83 percent of the aggregate pipeline value include: Roads (27 percent) followed by Railways (25 percent), Power (15 percent), oil & gas pipelines (8 percent) and Telecom (6 percent).
Air India Privatization 
  • The Economic Survey has highlighted that the privatization of Air India was a significant step in terms of boosting the privatization drive and gathering disinvestment proceeds.
Agile Policy framework
  • The government’s flexible and multi-layered response is partly based on an “Agile” framework that uses feedback-loops, and the use of eighty High Frequency Indicators (HFIs) in an environment of extreme uncertainty.
  • Startups in India have grown remarkably over the last six years. India has now become the third-largest startup ecosystem in the world after the US and China.
Global liquidity tapering 
  • A combination of high foreign exchange reserves, sustained foreign direct investment, and rising export earnings will provide an adequate buffer against possible global liquidity tapering in 2022-23.
Forest Area
  • India has the tenth largest forest area in the world.
  • In 2020, India ranked third globally in increasing its forest area from 2010 to 2020.
  • In 2020, the forests covered 24% of India’s total geographical area, accounting for 2% of the world’s total forest area.
Sustainable Development
  • India’s overall score on the NITI Aayog SDG India Index and Dashboard improved to 66 in 2020-21 from 60 in 2019-20 and 57 in 2018-19.
Climate Finance
  • As per the Economic Survey 2022, climate finance will remain critical to successful climate action for India to achieve its Net Zero Carbon Emission target by 2070.

Other important highlights from the Economic Survey 2022

Government’s Spending On Social Services Increases Significantly During The Pandemic

Social Services Spending: 

  • An increase of 9.8% has been made in the expenditure allocation to the Social Services sector in 2021-22 over 2020-21.
  • During the last five years, Social Services accounted for about 25% of the total Government expenditure. 

Economic Survey Observation on Education for 2019-20

  • Decline to 1.45% from 4.45% in drop-out rates at primary, upper primary and secondary levels.
  • Improvement in Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) at all levels and improvement in gender parity. In 2019-20, 26.45 crore children were enrolled in schools. This has helped to reverse the declining trend of GER between 2016-17 and 2018-19. 

Government initiatives at revolutionizing the higher education ecosystem: 

  • Amendment to National Apprenticeship Training Scheme
  • Academic Bank of Credit
  • e PGPathshala
  • Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 
  • Scholarship for weaker sections

Pandemic Impact on Education:

  • The Economic Survey refers to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2021 which has assessed the impact during the pandemic for the education sector in rural areas. 
  • ASER found that 
    • Enrolment in the age group of 15 to 16 years continues to improve as the number of ‘not enrolled’ children in this age group declined from 12.1 % in 2018 to 6.6 % in 2021. 
    • Children (age 6-14 years) ‘not currently enrolled in schools’ increased from 2.5 % in 2018 to 4.6 % in 2021. 
    • Children in rural areas have moved out of Private to Government schools in all age groups.
    • Students in lower grades found it difficult to do online activities compared to higher grade students.

Government measures to minimize the adverse impact of the pandemic on education 

  • Distribution of textbooks at home, 
  • Telephonic guidance by teachers, 
  • Online and digital content through TV and Radio, 
  • TARA interactive chatbot, 
  • Activity-based learning through the Alternative Academic Calendar released by the National Council of Education Research and Training, etc. 
  • Other major initiatives: PM e-Vidya, National Digital Education Architecture, NIPUN Bharat Mission, etc.
Agile And Multi-Pronged Approach Adopted By India To Combat Covid-19


The Economic Survey highlights that India’s response during the pandemic was based on the agile framework Multi-Pronged Approach. 

What is India’s response to the Pandemic?

  • The response of the Union Government to the global COVID19 pandemic has been agile, strategic and pre-emptive. 
  • In an uncertain environment, the agile framework responds by assessing outcomes in short alternations and constantly adjusting itself incrementally.
  • The flexibility of the agile framework improves responsiveness and aids evolution, but it does not attempt to predict future outcomes. 

India’s Health Response to COVID-19:

The Economic Survey states that India adopted a multipronged approach to COVID19 response and management. These included:

  1. Restrictions/partial lockdowns
  2. Building capacity in health infrastructure
  3. COVID-19 appropriate behaviour, testing, tracing, treatment, and
  4. Vaccination drive

Health Sector Expenditure:

  • Expenditure on the health sector increased from Rs. 2.73 lakh crore in 2019-20 (pre-COVID -19) to Rs, 4.72 lakh crore in 2021-22 (BE), an increase of nearly 73%. 
  • The National Health Policy, 2017 envisaged an increase in the Government’s health expenditure to 2.5% of GDP by 2025. 
  • The Central and State Government’s budgeted expenditure on the health sector reached 2.1% of GDP in 2021-22, against 1.3% in 2019-20.

National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5):

  • Child nutrition indicators have improved at the all India level. 
  • Under-Five Mortality Rate (U5MR) has declined from 49.7 in 2015-16 to 41.9 in 2019-21.  
  • Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) has declined from 40.7 per 1000 live births in 2015-16 to 35.2 per 1000 live births in 2019-21.  
  • Stunting has declined from 38% in 2015-16 to 36% in 2019-21. 
  • Wasting has also declined from 21% in 2015-16 to 19% in 2019-21.  
  • Underweight declined from 36% in 2015-16 to 32% in 2019-21. 
  • The sex ratio and birth of female children per 1000 male children born in the last five years, has grown from 919 in 2015-16 to 929 in 2019-21. 
India’s External Trade Recovers Strongly In 2021-22


The Economic Survey 2021-22 says that the resilience of India’s external sector during the current year augurs well for growth revival in the economy. 

External trade performance:

  • Exports: The USA followed by the UAE and China remained the top export destinations in April-November, 2021.
  • Imports: China, the UAE and the USA were the largest import sources for India. 
  • India’s merchandise exports: During April – December 2021 the merchandise exports grew by 49.7%, compared to the corresponding period of last year and 26.5% over 2019-20. 
  • India’s agriculture exports: Exports of agriculture and allied products grew by 23.2% during April- November 2021 over the corresponding period of last year. 

Trade in Services:

  • Services exports grew by 18.4% to US$ 177.7 billion during April-December 2021 for the corresponding period of last year. 
  • Services imports rose by 21.5% to US$ 103.3 billion in April-December 2021.

Current Account Balance:

  • India’s current account balance turned into a deficit of 0.2 percent of GDP in the first half of 2021-22. 

Capital Account:

  • The Survey states that the net foreign investment inflows moderated to US$ 25.4 billion in the first half of the current financial year, compared to the corresponding year of FY 2021. 
  • The Survey states that Foreign Portfolio Investment remains volatile due to global uncertainties.

BoP Balance and Foreign Exchange Reserves:

  • The Economic Survey mentions that the robust capital flows were sufficient to finance the modest current account deficit, resulting in an overall balance of payments (BoP) surplus.
  • This led to augmented foreign exchange reserves crossing the milestone of US$ 600 billion and touched US$ 633.6 billion as of December 31, 2021. 
  • As of the end of November 2021, India was the fourth-largest forex reserves holder in the world after China, Japan, and Switzerland.
Forex reserves trend

Image source: PIB

 External Debt:

  • India’s external debt as of end-September 2021 was 3.9% more than the end-June 2021 levels. 
  • The Survey says that from a medium-term perspective, India’s external debt continues to be below what is estimated to be optimal for an emerging market economy.

Economic Survey 2021 Highlights

The Economic Survey 2021 was presented by Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman. The theme for Economic Survey 2021 is “Saving Lives and Livelihoods”. Presenting the highlights of the survey for the year 2021.

  • In FY 2021, the economic contraction is projected at 7.7%.
  • With the farm sector being the silver lining, the GDP growth is estimated at 11% in the financial year 2022.
  • The economy is showing a V-shaped recovery supported by the vaccination drive against COVID-19. (Read in detail about economic recovery post-pandemic in the linked article.)
  • As the vaccination drive gathers steam, the rebound would be led by the low base and the continuing normalisation in economic activities.
  • Growth has been kept from further diving down by government consumption and net exports.
  • The Survey has batted for a continued expansionary fiscal stance by the government to ensure that growth returns to pre-Covid levels.
  • It said that as long as GDP kept growing, the country need not worry about debt.
  • It projected exports to decline by 5.8% and imports by 11.3% in the second half of FY21.
  • The country is expected to have a Current Account Surplus of 2% of GDP this fiscal which is a historic high after 17 years.
  • According to the survey, India’s fiscal policy should reflect Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s sentiment of ‘a mind without fear’.
  • It also stated that India’s sovereign credit ratings do not reflect its fundamentals, evident from its zero sovereign default history.
  • Healthcare:
    • The nationwide preemptive lockdown imposed prevented 37 lakh COVID-19 cases and 1 lakh deaths.
    • It recommended increasing the spending on public healthcare from 1% of GDP to 2.5 – 3% of GDP.
    • The health infrastructure should be made agile in order to be able to respond to pandemics better.
    • Telemedicine needs to be harnessed to the fullest by investing in internet connectivity and health infrastructure.
    • It recommended setting up a sectoral regulator for the healthcare sector and a rating agency-like body to evaluate the quality of healthcare service providers.
  • Process reforms:
    • There is over-regulation in the economy which leads to regulations being ineffective even when there is good compliance with the processes.
    • The solution is to simplify regulations and invest in greater supervision which, by definition, implies greater discretion.
    • There should be more investments in research and development by the private sector.
    • The Economic Survey suggests asset quality review exercise to be done immediately after the forbearance is withdrawn.
      • Forbearance represents ‘emergency medicine’ that should be discontinued at the first opportunity when the economy exhibits recovery, not a ‘staple diet’ that gets continued for years.
    • It called for a clean-up of the banks’ books to ensure that past mistakes are avoided in the future.
    • There is a need for boosting the legal infrastructure for the recovery of loans.
    • The survey supported the new farm laws which it said would benefit the small and marginal farmers, and usher in a free-market era in agriculture.
  • Fiscal developments:
    • India adopted a calibrated approach best suited for a resilient recovery of its economy from the pandemic impact, in contrast with a front-loaded large stimulus package adopted by many countries.
    • India remained the only country among emerging markets to receive equity FII inflows in 2020.
    • As per the survey, compared to 2012, access to “the bare necessities” has improved across all states in the country in 2018.
    • Access to bare necessities is the highest in Kerala, Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat while it is the lowest in Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Tripura.

Economic Survey 2020 Highlights

Download the highlights of the 2019 Economic Survey from the link below:

Economic Survey 2020:- Download PDF Here

Economic Survey 2019 Highlights

Download the highlights of the 2019 Economic Survey from the link below:

Economic Survey 2019:- Download PDF Here

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