The Reserve Bank of India could cut its benchmark interest rate at which it lends to banks on Thursday, due to shifting economic conditions, an economist told CNBC.
That call may surprise some because the RBI, in its last monetary policy statement in December, reiterated its stance of "calibrated tightening" — meaning there would not be a rate cut in the near term. At the moment, the central bank's policy repo rate is at 6.5 percent.
"My base case is for a cut today, but even if that doesn't happen, I think it just gets delayed to April," Priyanka Kishore, head of India and Southeast Asia economics at Oxford Economics, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Thursday.
Kishore said there were several factors that could lead the RBI to reverse its policy stance: the downtrend in headline inflation, a softening economic growth outlook, and a fragile shadow banking sector where lending abilities of the non-banking financial companies have been reduced.
In December, India's headline inflation dropped to an 18-month low of 2.19 percent, according to Reuters. The RBI's medium-term inflation target is between 2 and 6 percent, so the December number was at the tail end of the range.
"If I just look at the economic backdrop, then yes, a cut is justified," Kishore said.
Jeff Ng, chief economist for Asia at Continuum Economics, mirrored Kishore's view, saying he also expected a rate cut on Thursday.
"The slowing inflation trend gives reason enough for the central bank to start thinking of cutting rates now," he told CNBC's "Capital Connection."
"Cutting in April will be too close to the (general) election so we believe that having the rate cut today will help support the domestic growth," he added.