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Services Sector

The service industry forms a backbone of social and economic development of a region. It has emerged as the largest and fastest-growing sectors in the world economy, making higher contributions to the global output and employment. Its growth rate has been higher than that of agriculture and manufacturing sectors. It is a large and most dynamic part of the Indian economy both in terms of employment potential and contribution to national income. It covers a wide range of activities, such as trading, transportation and communication, financial, real estate and business services, as well as community, social and personal services. In India, services sector, as a whole, contributed as much as 68.6 per cent of the overall average growth in gross domestic product (GDP) between the years 2002-03 and 2006-07.

The most important services in the Indian economy has been health and education. They are one of the largest and most challenging sectors and hold a key to the country's overall progress. A strong and well-defined health care sector helps to build a healthy and productive workforce as well as stabilise population.The 'Ministry of Health and Family Welfare' is responsible for implementation of various programmes in the areas of health and family welfare, prevention and control of major communicable diseases as well as promotion of traditional and indigenous systems of medicines. Accordingly, it is carrying out measures like National health policy, implementing National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in different States, conducting surveys and studies, etc. While, education strongly influences improvement in health, hygiene and demographic profile. The 'Ministry of Human resource Development' is involved in eradicating illiteracy from the country. It is concerned with universalisation of elementary education, achieving full adult literacy, laying down of National Policy on Education, meeting needs of secondary and higher education for all, etc. India has achieved impressive demographic transition owing to the decline of crude birth rate, crude death rate, total fertility rate and infant mortality rate as well as gained high literacy rate in the country.

The era of economic liberalisation has ushered in a rapid change in the service industry. As a result, over the years, India is witnessing a transition from agriculture-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. The knowledge economy creates, disseminates, and uses knowledge to enhance its growth and development. One of the major functional pillars of this economy is Information Technology (IT) and IT-enabled services (ITeS) industry. The 'Department of Electronics and Information Technology' has been making continuous efforts to make India a front-runner in the age of Information revolution. IT continues to be a dominating sector in the overall growth of the Indian industry. A large number of Indian software companies have acquired international quality certification. Several policies have also been framed on the key issues of IT infrastructure, electronic governance as well as IT education.

Another major and upcoming service industry has been media and entertainment. It is basically an intellectual property-driven sector with small to large players spread throughout the country. It covers film, music, radio, broadcast, television and live entertainment. It plays a significant role in creating people's awareness about national policies and programmes by providing information and education to all. The 'Ministry of Information and Broadcasting' is responsible for formulation and administration of the rules, regulations and laws relating to media industry. Besides, retailing has been one of the fastest growing service sector both in terms of turnover and employment. Many national and global players have been investing in the retail segment and are making all efforts to further expand the sector. Out of the total retail outlets in the country, most of them are related to food items.

However, to supplement the achievements and meet the shortfalls in all the sub-sectors of the service industry, travel and tourism sector has to be developed in a sustainable manner. Being one of the largest industry in terms of gross revenue and foreign exchange earnings, it stimulates growth and expansion in other economic sectors like agriculture, horticulture, poultry, handicrafts, transportation, construction, etc. as well as gives momentum to growth of service exports. It is a major contributor to the national integration process of the country as well as preserver of natural and cultural environments. The 'Ministry of Tourism' has been undertaking several policy measures and incentives so as to boost the sector such as the announcement of the National Tourism Policy.

All this shows that services hold immense potential to accelerate the growth of an economy and promote general well-being of the people. They offer innumerable business opportunities to the investors. They have the capacity to generate substantial employment opportunities in the economy as well as increase its per capita income. Without them, Indian economy would not have acquired a strong and dominating place on the world platform. Thus, service sector is considered to be an integral part of the economy and includes various sub-sectors spread all across the country.

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