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Indian economic growth drops to just 5.8% in Jan-March qtr, falls behind China

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NEW DELHI, May 31 (Reuters) - India's economy grew at a much-lower-than-expected 5.8% in the January-March period, its slowest pace in 17 quarters, and falling behind China's pace for the first time in nearly two years, government data showed on Friday.

The slowdown will put pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government and the nation's central bank to provide stimulus for the economy through fiscal measures and interest rate cuts. Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party has only just been re-elected to a second term with an increased majority.

A Reuters poll of economists had forecast a growth of 6.3 percent for the March quarter, compared with a 6.6 % rise in the October-December period in 2018.

The statistics ministry downwardly revised economic growth for the fiscal year to March 31, 2019 to 6.8% from 7.0% estimated earlier.

(Reporting by Manoj Kumar Editing by Martin Howell)

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