India's economy will shrink this year for the first time since 1979

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(CNN) -- India's economy won't grow at all this year, despite an anticipated rebound in activity in the coming months, the head of the country's central bank said Friday.

Shaktikanta Das, the governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), said that GDP in Asia's third biggest economy would fall for the fiscal year of 2020-2021, which ends next March. The last time India's economy shrank over the course of a year was in 1979.

Das made the projection while announcing a slew of new measures to prop up the ailing economy, which has largely been shut down due to a nationwide lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic.

He announced that the RBI would slash its lending rate from 4.4% to 4%. The bank also extended a three-month debt moratorium it had offered to small and medium-sized businesses by another 90 days.

The central bank leader did not rule out the possibility of introducing other measures as the pandemic evolves.

The warning of zero growth came a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the government was committing $266 billion to support the economy, including steps to improve liquidity for businesses and an earlier $23 billion stimulus package meant to help the country's poor.

Modi has said the measures are equivalent to about 10% of the annual output of India's economy, though some analysts suggest that the real value is much lower.

India, once one of the world's hottest economies, was already struggling before the outbreak. Over the last few years, growth has roughly halved.

Residents have been living under lockdown since March. The stay-at-home restrictions are expected to continue through the end of this month, although other constraints have been relaxed recently.

Researchers at Goldman Sachs downgraded their GDP forecasts for India significantly this week, estimating that GDP would fall by 5% this fiscal year compared to a previously projected drop of 0.4%.

"The deeper trough ... reflects the extremely poor economic data we have received so far for March and April," they noted. "And the continued lockdown measures, which are among the most stringent across the world."

The new forecast would mark a "deeper [decline] compared to all 'recessions' India has ever experienced," the analysts wrote.

— Swati Gupta and Vedika Sud contributed to this report.

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