Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday described a group of economists and social scientists, who had alleged government interference in statistical data, as “compulsive contrarians” and said they were running a “fake campaign” against the government.
In a statement on March 14, the group of 108 people had urged the government to restore the integrity of statistical organisations as their national and global reputation was “at stake”. Citing recent examples, the group said any data unfavourable to the government “seems to get revised or suppressed on the basis of some questionable methodology”.
In the ninth part of his “Agenda 2019” series on Facebook, Jaitley said the statement made by the “108 purported economists” needs to be analysed. “Most of them have, over the last few years, repeatedly signed the memorandums of manufactured political issues against the present government,” he said. “‘Compulsive contrarians’ can hardly be objective.”
Highlighting the economic achievements of the Narendra Modi-led government, Jaitley said the Central Statistical Organisation has maintained an arm’s length distance from the government and functions professionally and independently. “Our data is maintained as per the best global practices,” he said. “The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have always commented favourably while accepting our data.”
Under the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government, India has witnessed the fastest growth in Gross Domestic Product for a five-year term of any government, said Jaitley. Comparing the performance of the current government with previous ones, he said it has been a period of fiscal consolidation and the five-year GDP growth has been at an average of 7.5%, the fastest amongst the major economies of the world.
Jaitley said that inflation has been broadly under control and fiscal deficit has slowly come down. The external debt as a percentage of the GDP is on the decline and there is a significant improvement in the current account balance of the government, he noted.
The BJP leader dismissed concerns over the issue of creating jobs and said it would be “preposterous” to argue that the fastest growing economy in the world is losing jobs. “Only those who failed to develop the Indian economy despite being in power for several decades cannot witness the reality that is staring in their faces,” he said. “The whole world, including the IMF and the World Bank, regard India as the fastest growing major economy in the world. The 130 crore Indians believe it. Only the ‘compulsive contrarians’ don’t!”