Congress leader Rahul Gandhi once again on Monday took a swipe at the government over the poor economic state of the country. He cited figures collated by economist Kaushik Basu that projected India’s GDP to contract the most among 11 Asian nations, including China.
“How to completely destroy an economy and infect the maximum number of people really quickly,” Gandhi tweeted. The data table shared by Gandhi and Basu showed India, with a projected GDP contraction of 10.3% and 83 Covid-related deaths per million, at the bottom of a list that includes China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Gandhi has been a vocal critic of the Narendra Modi-led government’s economic policies and coronavirus-fighting strategy. Last week, the Congress leader mockingly referred to the grim GDP estimate as “another solid achievement” by the BJP government. “Even Pakistan and Afghanistan handled Covid better than India,” Gandhi had tweeted, along with a chart depicting IMF’s growth projections for several Asian countries.
On October 13, the International Monetary Fund predicted that the Indian economy would contract by 10.3% in 2020-’21, owing to the lockdowns imposed to combat the coronavirus pandemic. India’s Gross Domestic Product contracted by a whopping 23.9% in the first quarter of 2020-’21. In its World Economic Outlook report on Tuesday, the IMF forecast that India would grow at 8.8% in 2021-’22, faster than China, which is projected to grow at 8.2%. The world body estimated that smaller economies like Bangladesh and Nepal will grow at 3.8% and 2.5%, respectively.
With these projections, India would be the third-poorest country in South Asia. Pakistan and Nepal would be the only countries with lower GDP. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Maldives would be ahead of India. The IMF predicted that Sri Lanka would be the second-most-affected after India. Sri Lanka’s per capita GDP is expected to shrink 4.6% in the current calendar year.
Earlier in the day, Basu, who served as the chief economic adviser to the Finance Ministry, tweeted a warning. “Don’t be in data denial. Mistakes happen-admit & take corrective action,” he wrote while sharing the data sheet.
According to the data sheet, China is projected to record positive GDP growth – 1.9% – this year. Bangladesh is likely to record a 3.8% GDP growth for 2020. China on Monday released its July-September GDP figures. The data showed that the country’s economy had grown by 4.9% – the same as last year.
The lockdowns imposed by the Centre on March 25 caused the Indian economy to contract by a record 23.9% in the April to June quarter.
India has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world after the United States and the third-highest toll after Brazil. India’s tally of coronavirus cases rose to 75,97,063 on Tuesday with 46,790 new cases in 24 hours. The country’s toll rose by 587 to 1,15,197. India’s active cases stood at 7,48,538, while the recoveries reached 67,33,328. The recovery rate stood at 88.63% and the mortality rate was 1.52%.