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India’s GDP calculation methodology sparks debate

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi: As India adopted a new way of calculating its gross domestic product (GDP) six months ago, the data is in controversy with many people questioning it. There is a debate going on whether or not these numbers be taken on its face value.

Photo credit: tibetanreview.com
Photo credit: tibetanreview.com

However, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley seems to welcome the debate, adding that the government has no role in this matter.

He said at The Economist magazine’s annual conference, “The manner in which the CSO (Central Statistics Office) functions is autonomous and independent of the government… they work at arm’s length from the government, while the models they employ are all internationally compatible.”

India’s new series of GDP figures continue to be wrapped up in controversy, over six months after its release.

Questions pertaining to the new estimates of India’s national income have been raised by several critics. Raghuram Rajan, Governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has stated publicly that it is difficult to take the new GDP numbers at face value and that he needs to study them further.

A committee headed by National Statistical Commission Chief, Pronab Sen, has been set up to examine the estimation methodology. He has however been a vocal supporter of the new series. “In the meanwhile, let both the exercise as well as the debate continue, which is always welcome in democracy,” the minister said.

The Indian economy grew by seven percent in the first quarter of this fiscal, showing signs of slowing vis-a-vis the 7.5 percent expansion in the quarter before. But the growth was much higher than 6.7 percent registered in the first quarter of the last fiscal.

The new number seem quite contradictory when compared with other economic indicators such as the revenue growth of listed firms and bank credit growth, the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), as well as real ground level challenges for companies such as weak demand, high debt and low earnings.

with inputs from IANS

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Indian Government Spent Nearly Rs 4Kcr on Swachh Bharat Info, Education

“The Swachh Bharat mission can serve as a model for other countries around the world that urgently need to improve access to sanitation for the world’s poorest."

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swachhata abhiyan
The government's much publicised Swachh Bharat Mission -- which aims to enhance the level of sanitation in India and make the country open defecation free (ODF). Flickr

To make the Swachh Bharat Mission a success, India mobilised huge resources for information, education and communication (IEC) activities, with a new report estimating that the cash expenditure by the government, private sector, and the development community to be between Rs 3,500-4,000 crore in five years since the programme’s launch.

Of this cash spend, around 20 per cent was spent by the erstwhile Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, around 35 per cent by the state sanitation departments, around 25 per cent by other government ministries, and around 20 per cent by the private sector and the development sector collectively, said the report by consultancy firm Dalberg Advisors.

Under the Swachh Bharat Mission, the government has shown remarkable ability to leverage resources across the public sector, private sector, media, and civil society, to make sanitation a mass movement in India.

In fact, the study estimates that the Swachh Bharat Mission mobilised a spend equivalent worth Rs 22,000-Rs 26,000 crore in monetary and non-monetary information, education and communication activities.

The researchers reached this figure by identifying the key activities and costs by different actors, modelling the number of “exposures” created, and estimating the investment required if the government were to “buy” these exposures in an efficient market.

An average person living in rural India was exposed to between 2,500-3,300 SBM related messages over the last five years, according to the study titled “An assessment of the reach and value of IEC activities under Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen)”.

Young Indians
Young Indians want to strengthen the ‘Swachh Bharat’ initiative. Wikimedia Commons

A large majority of these messages were routed via newly constructed toilets, mass media, and the

Swachh Bharat logo. Other significant contributors included ambient media such as wall murals and hoardings, and other conventional channels such as inter-personal communication (IPC), digital media, and cinema.

Since the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission on October 2, 2014, over 10 crore households toilets have been built in the country, leading to a significant improvement in sanitation coverage and reduction in open defecation.

Since 2014, engagement from the top political and government leadership, especially the Prime Minister, induced catalytic participation across segments, giving the cause of sanitation consistent attention and focus.

This translated into a mission mode approach where a range of government ministries, private sector organisations, the philanthropic ecosystem, civil society, and the media and entertainment sector participated to bring sanitation messaging and awareness to citizens at significant scale.

Also Read: Motorola Launches its First Smart TV in India

When Modi visits the US later this month, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will honour the success of Swachh Bharat that has transformed lives around the country.

“Globally, sanitation-related diseases kill nearly 500,000 children under the age of five every year. Yet despite its importance, sanitation has not received significant attention. A lot of governments are not willing to talk about it, in part because there are not easy solutions.

Before the Swachh Bharat mission, over 500 million people in India did not have access to safe sanitation, and now, the majority do. There is still a long way to go, but the impacts of access to sanitation in India are already being realised,” the Gates Foundation said in a statement.

“The Swachh Bharat mission can serve as a model for other countries around the world that urgently need to improve access to sanitation for the world’s poorest.” (IANS)