India's growth slowed to 7.1% last year, according to official data released today, weaker than analysts expected but still the fastest rate of growth of any major economy. 

GDP growth for the 12 months ended March 31 was well below a revised figure of 8% for the previous year, and follows the government's shock move last November to ban most of the currency in circulation.

But the country of 1.25 billion people is still reporting faster growth than rival China, at 6.7% in 2016.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has defended his move to remove all 500 and 1,000 rupee notes from circulation as a necessary strike against corruption. 

The government argues it will boost revenues by dissuading people from using cash, which makes it easier to avoid tax. 

The move hit cash-dependent sectors like property, jewellery and agriculture, and triggered massive queues outside banks in the weeks afterwards as authorities struggled to print replacement notes fast enough. 

While the full impact of the note ban is still not known, analysts had expected a pick-up in the fourth quarter as consumers who had held back in the weeks after the cash ban stepped up spending.

In a report earlier this week the World Bank said the fundamentals of India's economy remained strong and predicted an uptick in the economy with a national goods and services tax due to be introduced on July 1.

The move will likely "yield substantial growth dividends from higher efficiencies" and increase state revenues in the long term, according to the bank.