India has slipped by two places to 51st in the World Economic Forum's global competitiveness rankings, while rival China has managed to improve its standing to 29th.
As per the WEF's Global Competitiveness Report 2010-11, released today, Switzerland is number 1 in the world in terms of its ability to provide the most competitive environment on several fronts.
Sweden, another technology powerhouse in Europe, ranks second, followed by Singapore and the United States, which both fell by two positions from their ranking last year. The African nation of Chad figures at the bottom of the list of 139 countries.
The global competitiveness rankings are viewed as a barometer of the business climate in 139 countries and mirrors the assessments of leading businessmen on a range of political, social, and economic parameters.
Though Switzerland has "[state-supported] monopolies in key sectors, it maintains overall economic stability and largely open trade and investment policies," said Margareta Dryeniek Hanouz, senior economist and director of the WEF, who is also the co-author of the report.
India has been pushed down to 51st position from 49th due to its poor performance in a range of social sector areas such as education, health and infrastructure.
Though India has performed well in complex financial sector areas, attaining the 17th rank globally in terms of its financial markets, 44th in business sophistication and 39th in innovation, it has failed to improve the basic drivers of competitiveness, the report said.
"There are two Indias," said Thierry Geiger, an associate director at WEF, who also authored the report.
"While there is widespread poverty, poor health and education facilities and poor infrastructure in rural India, the other India is experiencing rapid growth," he said.
He praised China, which climbed up to 27th position from 29th last year, for making a dent in poverty and for improving overall access to education and health, suggesting that India is far from making a noticeable impact in these two areas.
Consequently, life expectancy is 10 years shorter in India as compared to China and Brazil.
Despite high economic growth, India continues to be plagued by budget deficits, high public debt and high inflation. In contrast, China has over USD 2 trillion in forex reserves and a sound macro-economic environment.
The WEF, which is a non-governmental organisation, is largely known for its annual Davos show of captains of industry and business and political leaders.
In the face of a growing economic crisis in the western world, the WEF has increasingly promoted "compassionate capitalism" as an economic model, analysts said.