Govt rejigs data to lower UPA economic growth

Govt rejigs data to lower UPA economic growth

GDP growth rates

The Centre on Wednesday released the much-awaited back-series data of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), revising downward the economic growth rate in all UPA years from 2004 to 2014 and withdrawing its own three-month-old data which put UPA years ahead of NDA, economically.

The new series data showed that the economic growth rate in four NDA years from 2015 to 2018 were 7.4%, 8.2% and 7.1% respectively, as opposed to less than 6% in the last four years of UPA.

At a press conference called by the Niti Aayog and Ministry of Statistics, Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar said the new GDP numbers were arrived at after a recalibration of the Indian economy based on international standards and norms set by the United Nations. He said the earlier data brought out by the government was not its own and was based on private findings of a panel set up by the National Statistical Commission (NSC). By revising growth rate downwards, the government also sought to send a message that the country was affected more by the global financial crisis of 2008 than previously estimated.

In August, back-series data calculated by a subcommittee under the NSC, using new base year of 2011-12, showed the economy grew close to 10% in two years of UPA government, before and after the global financial meltdown of 2008. The new series put it down to even below 8%.

The revision of data by the government, that shows the ruling NDA in a better light, comes in handy for the alliance which heads into Lok Sabha polls next year.

The release of new data, however, invited immediate criticism from India’s first chief statistician Pronab Sen, during whose regime most of the data in question was presented. Sen said, “The government simply politicised the event by bringing Niti Aayog in the picture, which has nothing to do with the tabulation of data.”

Niti Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar said the new series was brought out using different methodologies across the sectors, but Sen countered by saying that it was not clear which methodology was used for what.

Faced with embarrassing questions at the official briefing, Kumar lost his cool many times. He dismissed some questions as “naughty” and “undeserving for an answer”.

Most of the questions were related to whether the government would stick to the current data or change it again according to its convenience.