Distorting The Facts Is A Zero Sum Game

The BJP is a party obsessed with figures: 56 inch chests, 15 lakhs in bank accounts of all citizens, 400 years of foreign dominance, 7.4% of GDP growth, 21 states under its belt, 40 lakh ghuspaitias identified in Assam. It also regularly trots out figures of gas connections under Ujjwala, villages electrified, kilometers of highways built every day, number of Jan Dhan accounts opened, Mudra loans distributed, and so on. Which then makes one wonder why it is so coy about releasing figures related to employment during its four and a half year rule. It has steadfastly refused to give out any figures after 2014-2015, either those of the NSSO or of the Labour Bureau, on the grounds that the earlier methodology was faulty and it is now getting a fresh survey conducted with new parameters.

Which makes one smell a rat. The last time the govt. did this something similar it revised the methodology for calculating GDP retrospectively from UPA II times and, unsurprisingly, came to the conclusion that the growth of GDP during the UPA years was actually less than what was projected, and during the NDA years it was more! Of course, no reputed economist or international agency is comfortable with this sleight of hand which is modelled on the Chinese statistical practices, especially as these figures have been given out, not by the Indian Statistical Organisation, but by the NITI Ayog, the govt’s prime troubleshooter and go-to agency for subterfuges and dotty ideas. But it’s difficult to keep the cat in the bag for too long: the latest CMIE report states that as many as 11 million jobs were lost in 2016-17, post demonetisation and GST, and this is confirmed by a govt. report which too the Ministry has kept under lock and key. According to this report (the 6th Unemployment Survey of the Labour Bureau, not yet officially released) the unemployment rate has gone up from 3.4% in 2013-14 to 3.9% in 2016-17. The actual figure would be much worse because this survey was conducted in April-May of 2016, much before demonetisation in November that year. This has been confirmed by the Estimates Committee of Parliament: its report states that the NDA’s National Career Portal (the revamped employment exchange) managed to find only 707000 jobs during that year for the 39.1 million persons registered on it, a miserable 1.8%.

The BJP govt. refuses to accept these figures and at the same time will not release any figures of its own officially. This, of course, is part of its overall strategy to block the supply of any information, or, in order to claim credit where none is due, supply information only selectively. It took more than a year to tell us how much money found its way back into the banks after demonetisation, it has stopped releasing the figures about farmer suicides after 2015, it will not disclose the final price on the Rafale deal or the actual amount disbursed to farmers under the much hyped crop insurance scheme. In Kashmir, it gives only selective statistics in order to prove that its “muscular” policy in Kashmir is delivering results. It only keeps telling us of the number of terrorists killed there, but is silent about the civilians and security personnel killed, because that would expose its lie. Yes, the casualties of the militants has increased: 257 in 2018 as against 110 in 2014- an increase of about 140%. But this is small consolation because the number of civilians killed has gone up by 210% (30 as against 14 in 2014) and security personnel by almost a 1000% (29 as against the earlier 3) The ever-rising dissatisfaction and hostility of the local Kashmiris is reflected in another set of figures, those of incidents of stone pelting, which has since seen an equally sharp escalation – from 779 in 2014 to 1666 in 2018. Other figures also confirm that the BJP govt. is headed down a disastrous if not suicidal slope in the state: incidents of terror have gone up from 222 to 614, and cease fire violations from 583 in 2014 to 2140 in 2018. And yet the govt. keeps claiming success for its policy. Where, for God’s sake, is there even a glimmer of success in these statistics? How can any democratic govt. claim that increase in the number of deaths of its own citizens and security personnel, and blinding of its own children, is an indication of success.

Statistics, distorted or imagined, are the last refuge of someone losing touch with reality, a condition that has completely engulfed the present govt. Its strategy appears to be to draw a straight line from an unwarranted assumption to a foregone conclusion and consider that the truth; it will, however, soon find out that that is the shortest route to failure.

Avay Shukla retired from the Indian Administrative Service in December 2010. He is a keen environmentalist and loves the mountains. He divides his time between Delhi and his cottage in a small village above Shimla. He used to play golf at one time but has now run out of balls. He blogs at http://avayshukla.blogspot.in/

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1 Comment

  1. says: Anurag

    Modi also changed the idea of creating 100 new cities to 100 smart cities. Even though the existing metros and major cities are reeling under growing migrants, Modiji has ignored some major problems and now the only vision is to stay as a PM for the next 5 years.

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