Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Sunday withdrew his comment that recent big single-day earnings by three movies indicated there was no economic slowdown in India. Prasad had made the remark at a press conference in Mumbai on Saturday.

“My comment made yesterday in Mumbai about three films making Rs 120 crore in a single day – the highest ever – was a factually correct statement,” he tweeted. “I had stated this as I was in Mumbai – the film capital of India.”

Prasad said everyone was proud of the film industry, which, he pointed out, provides employment to lakhs of people and contributes significantly through taxes. “I had also explained in detail about various measures the government has taken as pro-people move to strengthen our economy. Government of PM Narendra Modi always cares for the sensitivity of common people.”

The Union minister said the entire video of his interaction with the media was available online. “Yet I regret to note that one part of my statement has been completely twisted out of context,” he added. “Being a sensitive person, I withdraw this comment.”

On Saturday, Prasad alleged that the National Sample Survey Organisation’s report on unemployment data was false. According to the report, India’s unemployment figures touched a 45-year high of 6.1% in 2017-’18.

The Opposition has severely criticised the minister’s comments. “At this point we must ask ourselves, do our ministers really believe what they’re saying or is it just part of the media circus that is the BJP government,” the Congress tweeted on Saturday. “If it is the former, then are they really qualified to be ministers.”

Congress MP Jairam Ramesh said China had different parameters for its economy. “Li Keqiang, China’s PM inspired the Keqiang index to measure health of economy with the indicators: rail freight, power consumption and bank credit,” he tweeted. “For our very own IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad daily film trade turnover is better. Pra-sad index indeed.”

Economic crisis

The World Bank on Sunday revised India’s growth rate projection to 6% for the 2019-’20 financial year. However, it said if the monetary policy remains accommodative, the country will gradually recover to 6.9% in 2021 and 7.2% in 2022.

India’s GDP growth rate slipped to a six-year low of 5% in the April-June quarter. It was the fourth straight quarter of slowdown. The Reserve Bank of India on October 4 revised India’s projected growth rate for 2019-’20 to 6.1%. The Asian Development Bank had cut its growth forecast from 7% to 6.5% the month before.

Former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan has cautioned that India’s fiscal deficit concealed a lot and may push the economy to a “worrisome situation”. Rajan said the uncertainty about the situation at the higher levels had caused severe distress in the economy.

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