Tejasvi Surya's Claim About India's GDP Under BJP Falters on Data
We looked at government data and found that Tejasvi Surya's claims were not backed by data.
The Quint DAILY
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“Before Modi there was double-digit inflation. Now we have single-digit inflation. Before the size of India’s GDP was Rs 110 lakh crore. After Modi, the size of the GDP is Rs 230 lakh crore. Before Modi, India’s exports were Rs 2.85 lakh crore. After Modi, it is Rs 4.7 lakh crore,” Surya said.
He also added that the foreign reserves before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government were at 275 billion dollars and today they are at 630 billion dollars.
(Note: The remark can be heard around 3:30 minute mark)
Surya's statements came as a response to several Opposition leaders' questions on the state of unemployment in the country. Surya claimed that unemployment too had gone down in the country under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
We, however, found that Surya's claim about the GDP was inaccurate in terms of absolute numbers and the implication that it grew at a faster rate than the Congress was also incorrect.
So, here's a look at the official data to see what the BJP MP got wrong in his speech in the Parliament.
How Much Has GDP Increased Under the BJP Government?
Surya claimed that the GDP increased from Rs 110 lakh crore under the Congress government to Rs 230 lakh crore under the BJP government.
We looked at the Handbook of Statistics on the Indian Economy, an annual publication by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) that collates government data to provide a one-stop station for all financial data.
According to the National Statistical Office (NSO), the GDP of India in 2013-14 (at constant prices), before the current BJP government took over, was Rs 98 lakh crore which increased to Rs 135 lakh crore in 2020-21, after taking a fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have considered the GDP figures (at constant prices) as it is adjusted for the effects of inflation and is considered an indicator to measure true growth of an economy.
Before the fall in GDP numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the highest absolute number that India's GDP reached was Rs 145 lakh crore in 2019-20. So, while India's GDP has increased since 2014, it has not reached Rs 230 lakh crore.
But the real question is about the rate of growth under both the governments – United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
BJP vs Congress: How Has the Economic Growth Been?
We have considered the data of the two terms of UPA (from 2004-2009 and 2009-2014), and BJP's first term from 2014-19 along with the second term until now.
For a fair comparison, we considered the data from Report of the Committee on Real Sector Statistics. This report was constituted by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation's National Statistical Commission, and it put out the GDP numbers from 1993-2014 after converting it to the new base year of 2011-12.
The average year-on-year growth in GDP between 2004-09 under UPA 1 was 8.37 percent and the same under UPA 2 was 7.69 percent.
On the other hand, the year-on-year growth in GDP from 2014-19 was 7.44 percent.
The GDP growth in 2019-20 (as per the revised data) was around 3.7 percent (down from 6.5 percent in the previous year).
The GDP contracted by 6.6 percent in 2020-21 (the year COVID-19 was declared a pandemic) as per the revised estimates released by the government earlier this year. The provisional data had put the contraction at 7.25 percent.
As per the Economic Survey, the estimates suggest that India is expected to witness a growth of 9.2 percent in 2021-22 and 8-8.5 percent in 2022-23.
What About the Other Claims?
Surya also said that India’s exports were at Rs 2.85 lakh crore under the Congress and after PM Modi took over, it increased to Rs 4.7 lakh crore.
However, according to the data from the Commerce Ministry available on RBI, India's total exports were much higher in 2013-14 (FY14) at Rs 19 lakh crore and increased to Rs 23 lakh crore in FY19, after falling to Rs 17.2 lakh crore in FY16. If we include the services exports, the number will be much higher.
While the exports, in absolute numbers, have increased, the year-on-year growth under Modi's first term was been much slower (4.27 percent) than the UPA 2 which was 18.3 percent.
Surya also talked about inflation in his speech. While the figures cited by the Karnataka MP were correct, it does not paint a complete picture. The high inflation numbers under UPA 2 are attributed to the global financial crisis.
At the end of UPA's second term, the inflation reduced to 5.8 percent, taking a steep fall from 9.4 percent the previous year, as per the data available on the website of International Monetary Fund (IMF).
While the NDA government has managed to keep the inflation rates under 10, it started increasing in 2019, breaching RBI's 6 percent upper limit.
However, as per the Economic Survey, Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation moderated to 5.2 percent in 2021-22 (April-December) as compared to 6.6 percent in the same period in 2020-21.
While it is true that India's foreign exchange reserves have also crossed 630 billion dollars as per the latest RBI weekly update, it didn't increase from 275 billion dollars as pointed out by Surya. The foreign exchange reserves in the year 2013-14 were at 304 billion dollars.
Using the above-mentioned economic indicators, Surya implied that the unemployment in the country has reduced under the Modi government.
While we were unable to trace the unemployment rate between 2012 and 2016, as per the Periodic Labour Force Survey (2017-18), the unemployment rate in the country was at 6.1 percent, highest in 45 years.
The survey also noted an increase in unemployment rate in the educated people.
The rate of unemployment reduced to 5.8 percent the next year and then 4.8 percent year after that.
It must be noted that as per the data published by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), an independent think tank, unemployment reached a four-month high in December 2021 at 7.9 percent.
Clearly, the data presented by Tejasvi Surya is exaggerated and misleading in some cases, and it lacks context in others. We have reached out to Surya for a clarification and the story will be updated as and when we receive a response.
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