Economists and Academics Urged to End Interfering with Economic Data to the Indian Government

108 economists and social scientists in India and abroad made a joint statement on March 14 and criticised the political obstruction in India’s demographic institutions; the Central Statistical Office (CSO) and National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO). The announcement added signatories such as Jean Dreze, Amartya Lahiri and Satish Deshpande. Framing financial data a “public asset, it read the peril to the credibility of India’s statistics bodies and urged to all the country’s economists to uplift their voices against the “ suppression of uncomfortable data” and urge the government to “ re-construct institutional independence also honour to the statistical organisations.

The statement clearly highlighted the difficulties implicit in the Modi administration’s statement of a back-dated range of GDP data. It further announced that the government’s base-year method of improvement increased growth rates when correlated with estimates by independent economists. Last year’s November, India’s Ministry of Statistics, in agreement with the government think tank, Niti Aayog, issued a revised set of GDP data that showed that growth supporting the previous Congress government between 2004-05 and 2013-14 was less than what the prevailing BJP-led government has gained over the last four years.

The joint statement also indicated the government’s concealment of its newest jobs report, the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), owing to its adverse findings. PC Manmohan and JV Meenakshi, at the end of January 2019, the only external members of India’s National Statistics Commission abdicated from the body after the government delayed the report. The report, which was afterwards leaked, revealed that unemployment reached a 45-year high in 2017-18. In reply to the statement, PC Manohan stated that India’s political parties should pay attention to the economists’ concerns.

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