Several recent articles have highlighted a surge of silver imports to India, prompting me to take a closer look. India has always been a big buyer of silver and gold, befitting the traditions and culture of the country with the world’s second largest population. The population of India, more than 1.3 billion citizens, is now only about 50 million less than that of China. Combined, both countries make up 35% of the total world population (7.7 billion) and have always been large buyers and holders of gold and silver. Together, India and China absorb close to 50% of total world gold and silver mine production.
One big difference between India and China is that the gold and silver buying in India is largely a grassroots phenomenon, emanating from the general population due to deep-rooted customs and traditions; where the buying from China is predominantly from official sources (similar to the gold buying by Russia). To me, this makes the gold and silver buying from India more “free market” and price-sensitive in nature because the more participants in any market, the freer the market is by definition. The many tens and even hundreds of millions of gold and silver buyers from India make the markets there the freest of all.