The tragedy of a public debate delinked from empirical reality
This blogger tweeted a column in Mint by Niranjan Rajadyashkha last evening. Here is the tweet.
While the column will hardly qualify as being charitable to the UPA government, the fact that the growth rate for FY03 (2002-03 to be more explicit) of 3.8% happened under the BJP-led NDA government, attracted the usual hordes on Twitter. Just to put the record straight, I asked Niranjan about the source of his data. It comes from the most authentic source — Reserve Bank of India’s Handbook of Statistics (last updated on September 15, 2011), Table 224.
Let me pre-empt the next question. But what about the 8.5% growth rate in 2003-04? Here is what the Economic Survey for 2003-04 said:
A growth rate higher than 8 percent has been achieved in the past in only three years: 1967-68 (8.1 percent), 1975-76 (9 percent) and 1988-89 (10.5 percent). However, the higher than expected growth in 2003-04, like in the other three years referred to above, was on the back of a year of poor growth (4.0 percent) due to an unfavourable monsoon and fall in agricultural production. [Para 1, Chapter 1]
This much for the facts – to set them straight.
As for the opinion, growth rate at any point of time is an outcome of combination of factors: legacy policies (economic reforms undertaken by the Congress government from 1991 to 1993 or tax reforms of P Chidambaram’s Dream Budget of 1997), incumbent government’s policies (impetus to road construction under Mr Khanduri or bold disinvestment under Mr Shourie in the NDA government), geopolitical situation (reflected in the fluctuating price of crude oil), geoeconomic situation (global economic crisis of 2008), bad monsoons (leading to negative agricultural growth in 2002-03) and the prevailing political situation (which earned Yashwant Sinha the sobriquet of a Rollback Minister or Dr Manmohan Singh the tag of not really being a reformer).
Politically partisan people can pick the factors of their choice from the above list while ignoring others. That may help them in yelling their opinions but it won’t change the facts.