Two independent members — P.C. Mohanan and J.V. Meenakshi — of the National Statistical Commission quit Monday over being ‘bypassed’ by Modi govt.
New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government didn’t consult or bypassed the National Statistical Commission (NSC) in at least four instances over the past year, even withholding the latest jobs data report, forcing the commission’s two independent members to quit earlier this week.
Some of these government moves were in contravention to the existing practice or guidelines that have been followed for years, said sources.
The only two independent members of the NSC — P.C. Mohanan, the acting chairman of the commission and a retired career statistician, and J.V. Meenakshi, a professor at the Delhi School of Economics — resigned Monday protesting against the decisions that have rendered the commission “ineffective”.
“There were not only one or two issues. The commission was being bypassed by the ministry on a number of other issues as well,” Mohanan told ThePrint.
“We felt that the Commission had become ineffective.”
The latest trigger for the members was the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) employment and unemployment report for the 2017-18 fiscal that has been withheld by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
The report would have highlighted the job losses in the year immediately after demonetisation of high value notes in November 2016, said sources.
NSC has full technical oversight over NSSO reports and had approved the employment report last month and sent it to the ministry for release.
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In November 2018, the GDP back-series methodology was released by the ministry through the government think-tank Niti Aayog and the NSC was not kept in the loop.
The NSC doesn’t approve the figures, but an advisory committee of the NSC approves the methodology.
The back-series data had drastically revised downwards the growth numbers during the tenure of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.
The data showed that the Indian economy grew at an average of only 6.67 per cent in the nine years till 31 March 2014 (UPA tenure), slower than the 7.35 per cent achieved in the four years till 31 March 2018 (NDA tenure).
In doing so, the government completely disregarded a report of a sub-committee of the NSC headed by N.R. Bhanumurthy, a professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.
The commission’s back-series calculation showed that the Indian economy grew at a much faster pace during UPA’s tenure and registered double-digit growth in two years — 10.23 per cent in 2007-08 and 10.78 per cent in 2010-11.
In May last year, the ministry released the draft of the national policy on official statistics without consulting the commission.
Further, despite the ministry’s own guidelines which state that the NSC has to approve starting any new census or survey, the ministry last year announced the beginning of the huge exercise of economic census without the commission being consulted, Mohanan said.
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At the best of times, statistics go over my head. Now I don’t even take the trouble to read the figures. Anecdotal evidence seems more authentic, reliable, trustworthy. Not just figures, photo shopped images as well. Gleaming highways built in Turkey being shown as being in Goa.
WAH MODI JI WAH WAH
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