Standard & Poor's warned Monday that India could be the first of the BRIC emerging economies to lose its investment-grade rating unless the Asian giant revives its growth and spurs reforms.
The agency's report, titled "Will India be the first BRIC Fallen Angel?" comes as India grapples with a raft of economic woes including high inflation, slowing growth and a troubled currency.
"Setbacks or reversals in India's path toward a more liberal economy could hurt its long-term growth prospects and therefore its credit quality," said Joydeep Mukherji, an S&P credit analyst.
In April, the firm downgraded India's credit outlook to negative from stable, maintaining India's rating at "BBB-" but warning it faced at least a one-in-three chance of losing its status if its public finances worsened.
"BBB-" is just one notch above "junk", which carries an increased risk of default and would see India having to pay higher interest rates on its public borrowing.
After S&P's announcement, India's benchmark Sensex share index ended down 0.30 percent at 16,668.01 points.
The latest economic growth figures showed the Indian economy expanded 5.3 percent in the January-March period, the slowest quarterly growth figure in nine years.
Other concerns are a gaping fiscal deficit, historic rupee lows against the dollar and annual inflation of about 7.0 percent.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh conceded last week that the domestic economy was heading into "turbulent weather", saying the government must strive to revive flagging business and shore up confidence among investors in India's economy.
The country's reform process has been paralysed by a string of political scandals.
S&P had hiked India's credit rating to investment-grade in 2007, a move that paved the way for global funds to invest in government bonds and other debt in the country.
The other three emerging BRIC nations -- Brazil, Russia and China -- are also rated investment-grade.
-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report --