By Kaushal Shroff
The latest GDP figures are a window dressing under which the economy is unmistakably tottering and the growth trajectory since the pandemic has been ramshackle at best.
The latest, June quarter gross domestic product (GDP) figures for fiscal year (FY) 23 delivered some much-needed grist for the BJP’s spin mills. Prima facie, the numbers look impressive and, to nobody’s surprise, the party machinery is leaving no stone unturned in trumpeting the figures as evidence that the Modi government is indeed grafting together an impressive growth narrative for India. However, the catch here is that under the window dressing of the GDP figures, the economy is unmistakably tottering and the growth trajectory since the pandemic has been ramshackle at best.Contrasted with the 16.2% growth rate projection given by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and a median projection of 15.2% by economists surveyed by Reuters, the latest quarter growth rate numbers surprised everyone by coming in lower at 13.5%. A real GDP growth rate of 13.5% sounds incredible and this growth spurt can be attributed to the second wave of COVID-19 that devastated the subcontinent during the same quarter last year. Naturally, economic activity in large swathes across India took a beating and real GDP figures tanked. This made for a low base compared to which the Indian economy registered a 13.5% real GDP growth rate in the last quarter.As for the claim of the Indian economy pipping the UK to become the fifth largest economy, the latest GDP figures might not be the best compass through this economic terrain. Consider, for a moment, the per capita GDP gulf between the two nations, which is staggeringly large and truly embarrassing for India. For the UK, per capita figure of $47,000, India’s per capita figures scrape in at barely $2,500. In any case, the GDP is a measure of income and not wealth. Reliance on GDP figures as an indicator to suggest that India’s wealth has shot up or its poverty levels have plummeted is a disingenuous ploy that massages economic statistics for the larger goal of creating a sellable narrative. India’s GDP figures could keep climbing upward but it would never be an economic indicator suggesting an equitable redistribution of wealth. The GDP figures can continue to climb higher even if the top 1% prospers at the cost of the 99%. (The Wire)