New Delhi: Congress MP Rahul Gandhi this afternoon cited figures collated by renowned economist Kaushik Basu – which project India’s GDP as contracting the most among a selection of 11 Asian nations, including China – to take yet another swipe at the government.
“How to completely destroy an economy and infect the maximum number of people really quickly,” Mr Gandhi tweeted, with a data table showing projected GDP growth (for 2020) for 11 Asian countries and the number of coronavirus-related deaths (per million) for each.
India, with a projected GDP contraction of 10.3 per cent (according to a IMF report released ealier last week) and 83 Covid-related deaths per million, is at the bottom of a list that includes China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), in a report released last Tuesday, said it expected India’s economy to shrink by 10.3 per cent – a huge downward revision from its June prediction for a government under pressure over its handling of the pandemic and the economic fallout.
Kaushik Basu, who served as Chief Economic Adviser to the Finance Ministry, tweeted another warning today: “Don’t be in data denial. Mistakes happen-admit & take corrective action…”
In August the government said India’s GDP had contracted by 23.9 per cent – much worse than expected – in April-June, as the pandemic brought key industries to a halt and left millions jobless.
Mr Gandhi tore into that revelation, accusing the government of ignoring repeated warnings from experts on the extent to which the coronavirus pandemic had affected the economy
The government has since claimed a recovery of sorts – on both fronts.
Earlier this month the Finance Ministry said “demand resurgence is palpable in many sectors” and yesterday a government-appointed committee said the country had crossed the coronavirus peak.
One of the points claimed by the committee was that the early lockdown, which triggered the economic problems – had significantly helped reduce the number of deaths due to the virus.
Meanwhile, apart from highlighting a potentially difficult 2020 for India’s GDP (something several economists and reports have already flagged), the IMF report triggered another row when it suggested that India’s per capita GDP is set to drop below that of Bangladesh.
Rahul Gandhi pounced on that as well, tweeting: “Solid achievement of 6 years of BJP’s hate-filled cultural nationalism. Bangladesh set to overtake India”.
Shortly after that government sources issued a clarification, claiming that in terms of purchasing power parity – a measure of GDP that accounts for relative differences between countries – India’s per capita GDP in 2019 was actually 11 times higher than that of Bangladesh.
China, which according to the data sheet shared first by Mr Basu and then Mr Gandhi, is projected to record positive GDP growth – 1.9 per cent – this year.
Bangladesh, meanwhile, is to record an impressive 3.8 per cent GDP growth for 2020.
This afternoon China released its July-September GDP figures and said its economy had grown by 4.9 per cent – the same as last year and only marginally below the expected 5.2 per cent.