New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru University professor and renowned economist C.P. Chandrasekhar has resigned from a government-appointed committee, which was set up to review India’s economic data.
Chandrasekhar withdrew from the Standing Committee on Economic Statistics, which was to hold its first meeting Tuesday, in light of the violence on JNU campus, according to a Business Standard report.
“I regret to inform you that, because of the situation in the JNU where I stay, I will be unable to attend tomorrow’s meeting. Further, I feel that, under current conditions, this committee is unlikely to restore the credibility of the statistical system, which has been undermined in the recent past,” the report quoted him as saying in an email sent to other members of the committee at 9 pm Monday.
Citing his discontent, the economist called the incidents taking place on the campus “disturbing” and “unprecedented”.
He placed emphasis on “political pressures” to explain his withdrawal. “It is unfortunate that political pressures have reduced their autonomy now, and efforts to consolidate a well designed system are being subverted. In these circumstances, I will not be able to serve on this committee.”
‘JNU incident has further undermined faith in the system’
In a telephonic conversation with Business Standard, Chandrashekhar explained, “I was persuaded that this government is not concerned about the robustness of India’s statistical system. The JNU’s incident on Sunday has further undermined the faith in the system. It shows that we are now living in a different world and it’s hard to work with a government in which you have lost faith.”
In its meeting Tuesday, the committee was to finalise the Index of Industrial Production data for November 2019, and also set a future agenda for it.
The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation had introduced the Standing Committee on Economic Statistics last month. This committee is led by former chief statistician Pronab Sen, and was set to “review the extant framework relating to data sources, indicators, concepts or definitions and other issues of the economic data-sets”. The panel also aimed to address concerns over “political interference” in the statistical system.
In January 2019, P.C. Mohanan and J.V. Meenakshi had resigned from the National Statistical Commission, reportedly prompted “by the inability of the Modi government to interface with and effectively take on board the commission’s contributions”.
In May 2019, Chandrasekhar was part of a group of 108 economists and social scientists who protested against what they said was the Narendra Modi government’s move to revise or withhold the release of unfavourable economic data.
“…Any statistics that cast an iota of doubt on the achievement of the government seem to get revised or suppressed on the basis of some questionable methodology,” the economists had then said in a joint statement.