With the 2019 general election now just months away, the Modi government has lowered the GDP growth rates under the two preceding Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) governments, claiming the revised figures are a more accurate reflection of the economy.
According to the new calculation by the Central Statistics Office, the economy grew by 6.7 percent in the first term of the UPA government, not 8.1 percent, and by 6.7 percent, not seven percent, in its second term.
The GDP growth rates for FY 2006-12 have been revised using new back series data, which are consistent with international standards, Chief Statistician Pravin Srivastava said. "The recalibration exercise led to a change in growth rates in the back series and today's exercise is a result of comprehensive work," he said.
The back series data lowered the 9.3 percent growth rate each in 2005-06 and 2006-07 to 7.9 percent and 8.1 percent respectively, and 7.7 percent was projected for 2007-08 instead of 9.8 percent. It also showed 3.1 percent in 2008-09 instead of 3.9 per cent, 8.5 percent instead of 10.3 percent in 2010-11, and 5.2 percent instead of 6.6 percent in 2011-12.
The Congress has responded by calling the present regime as the "defeatist Modi government."
"The entire GDP back series data released today reflects the desperate attempt of a defeatist Modi Government to undermine India's growth story over last 15 years. Modi Government and its puppet Niti Aayog want the people to believe that 2+2=8," Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in a statement. "Such is the gimmickry, jugglery, trickery and chicanery being sold as 'back series data.'"
Niti Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar said the new series, with its supporting back series, is in sync with UN Standard National Account. Kumar said the government had no intention to "mislead or do something purposefully which did not reflect the reality."
"CSO today released the back series of GDP/GVA for period 2004-05 to 2011-12 with base 2011-12 prices. Used SNA 2008 concepts, latest data sources and indices for the back series. Methodological changes include institutional approach, reference rate method for FISIM (Financial Intermediation Services Indirectly Measured)" Kumar said.
"Treatment of trade sector (has been done) using sales tax instead of Gross Trading Income (GTI). Share of primary, secondary sectors (has gone) up in the back series while tertiary sector (has) reduced. Recalibration exercise led to a change in growth rates in back series," he said.
Former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said, in a series of tweets, "Niti Aayog's revised GDP numbers are a joke. They are a bad joke. Actually, they are worse than a bad joke. The numbers are the result of a hatchet job. Now that Niti Aayog has done the hatchet job, it is time to wind up the utterly worthless body."
"The earlier numbers were calculated by the National Statistical Commission. Has the Commission been disbanded? Former Chief Statistician Pranab Sen is absolutely correct. Niti Aayog has nothing to do with tabulation of data. I wonder if Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar will agree to a debate the data than telling journalists that their questions are 'undeserving of an answer,'" he said.
Sudipto Mundle, the chairman of the committee on real sector statistics, toldThe Indian Express that he back series should have come three years ago. "I am glad it has come out. Should have come out three years ago but MoSPI was not biting the bullet. They have used data which only they could have mined, using proxies rather than going by an econometric method," he said.