Friday, July 30, 2021

Data manipulation

Non-disclosure of the National Statistical Commission (NSC) report that claims that the unemployment rate was the highest in the last 45 years by the BJP-government is a very serious issue. It is also unfortunate that it was for the first time in the history of post-independence India that a government is interfering and manipulating the data on unemployment. Moreover, it is also for the first time in the history of the country that the NSC has become defunct with the resignation of two members while the ex-officials have already left. The two members resigned in protest after the government refused to disclose the data compiled by the NSC not only on unemployment but also on host of other issues which include status of the Indian economy. It was only one newspaper which accessed the data and published it stating that the unemployment rate was 6.1% in 2017-18 post-demonetisation and was at its highest level since 1972-73, the period when the job data is comparable. It is sad state of affairs that the central government preferred not to disclose the NSC data when the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth showed that the UPA government had done better than the present regime. Surprisingly, the NITI Aayog, which has nothing to do with data and statistics, was asked to study those figures. Those at the helm of affairs in NITI Aayog revised and manipulated those figures and came out with another set of figures which showed that India has recorded highest growth rate in the five years of Modi-government. So far as the unemployment rate is concerned, it was demonetization followed by the much-touted ‘One Nation, One Tax’, known as Goods and Services Tax (GST) that had tremendous adverse impact on the economy especially on agriculture and rural and informal sector. The two factors have impacted the rural and agricultural economy to such an extent that it may take another few years to reverse the ills that are ailing the present economy of the country. The policies pursued by the Modi-government have had devastating impact on three sectors not much like the corporate organized sector, which stands to gain and saw their wealth growing during this period by more than 50%. It appears that the government was working at the behest of some corporate houses to increase their wealth after getting handsome funding for the elections in 2014 for the BJP, which gained power on the anti-Congress wave. It is also interesting to note that most of the centres of production spread across the country had to retrench the labour because it was not worthwhile for them to carry on their business and many of these people who were employed went home. Rough estimates have put the loss of employment to around two crore people. The loss of jobs in the mini and micro business and industrial establishments remains unaccounted for as no study has been carried out. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy has stated that 11 million jobs were lost in 2018 itself. The figures for the previous years after demonetization are not available for various reasons as the government did not find it necessary to compile the figures while making contradictory claims that there has been rise in employment rate in the country. Suddenly there was spurt in budgetary allocation for MGNREGA and it was hiked from Rs 55,000 crore to Rs 65,000 crore and even that was inadequate to meet the demands. This was as a result of the labour that went home started working as manual labourers in their home villages and towns to earn something that could support their livelihood. The central government did not disclose this development that prompted hike in budgetary allocation for rural employment. Barring this, the employment generation claims of the government painted a very dismal picture and this was the main reason why the Modi-regime was not coming out with its figurers on this issue. Moreover, the Labour Bureau, which publishes quarterly data of employment generation was stopped from doing that work and none of the figures were allowed to be made public, which could cause massive embarrassment for the government. Fudging the data on not only on unemployment generation but also other economic conditions amounts to serious fraud that can have a lasting impact on the credibility of the government.