The case for doubting India's GDP numbers -V Anantha Nageswaran
Arvind Subramanian’s conclusions about GDP growth figures are in the right direction. There’s no point being in denial
Arvind Subramanian was the chief economic advisor (CEA) to the Government of India from October 2014 to June 2018. Among other things, he became well known and was praised deservingly for his Economic Surveys. He made that document interesting, useful and accessible. He also took it to the country by hosting online lectures on the topics covered in the survey. A former central banker told me that he was a model CEA.
Fast forward to 12 June 2019. Arvind Subramanian wrote an article in The Indian Express summarizing his findings on the econometric work he had done on India’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth estimates. His results suggest that, on average, India’s GDP could have been overstated by a magnitude of about 2.5 percentage points every year since 2011, amounting to a cumulative 19-21% during the whole period (2011-18). However, in his econometric investigation, he excludes data for 2017-18 and 2018-19.
Subramanian has been criticized by commentators on both sides of the political divide in India. Those who are opposed to the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government are critical because he did not publicize his results before the genera election. It might have strengthened their hands. Or, so they think. Unlikely. But, that is their grievance.
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