New Delhi: So, the slide continues. Economic growth sank further to hit an over 6-year low of 4.5 per cent in July-September, as per official data released on Friday. This is the lowest since the January-March quarter of 2013.
What is worrisome is that it is a prolonged slowdown with growth below the 7 per cent mark for the fourth quarter in a row. The manufacturing sector recorded negative growth yet again -- once considered the backbone of the economy, it grew at -1% in the July-September quarter. If that was not enough bad news for a day, government data shows that the output of eight core infrastructure industries contracted by 5.8% in October, indicating the severity of the economic slowdown.
The Opposition latched on to the numbers, slammed Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and demanded that if this is not recession, as she has claimed in Parliament, then what is it? Congress chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala said the GDP's collapse to an abysmal 4.5% shows that "we are in a virtual free-fall," and he can't understand why the BJP is still celebrating and the government remains in a denial mode.
He taunted in a tweet that the BJP's understanding of GDP (Godse Divisive Politics) suggests double digit growth levels. It only shows the ruling BJP's bankruptcy of economic vision, he added, noting that thanks to ‘Modinomics’ and a ‘Pakoda economic vision’ the economy has slumped deep in recession. Interestingly, numerous rating agencies – the World Bank, the IMF, Moody, Fitch, the RBI and even the SBI read the writing on the wall and have been signalling that GDP growth is in dangerous territory.
Incidentally, the average GDP growth rate during 10 years of Congress dispensation was 8.13%. Even in the last year of UPA – that is, 2013-14 – the GDP growth rate was 6.39%.
Incidentally, there is bad news on too many fronts. For instance, unemployment rate is at a 45-year high as per the NSSO report. As per CMIE methodology, unemployment rate was 7.6% in November 2019. This is almost double the current global rate of 4.95% (as per ILO).Likewise, consumption is down at a 47 year low (NSO report) and household savings are at a 20 year low. The downside is that lesser savings mean even lesser spending.
Food inflation, which was under control for some time, is now burning a hole in consumer’s pocket. Prices of fruits, vegetables and essential commodities have rendered them out of reach. Even the staple onions are inching close to Rs 100/kg mark. The Congress spokesperson said despite all this the BJP Ministers continue to mock at the misery of the common man. Surjewala noted how law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad cited the crowds in the cinema theatres to deny the economic slump while Railway and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal have claimed that ‘Maths didn't help ‘Einstein’ discover gravity’ citing the pointlessness of the entire exercise of economic data crunching. He said the most deplorable was Sitharaman herself admitting that there is all around slowdown but no recession.
He said: "The BJP is not ruling any of the four metros now – Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata or Chennai -- and is ruling only 41% of India. This is the real reflection of people’s anger against their misrule."Trinamul's Derek O'Brien tweeted: "Lowest GDP growth in 26 quarters! No answers from FM. No wonder, the entire Opposition walked out of the Rajya Sabha 40 minutes into the FM’s speech this week. And ministers dozed off in their seats."Speaking at the National Economy Conclave, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the economic condition of the country is "worrisome". Speaking at the conclave, CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury referred to the recent GDP numbers and said, "This is the New India.’’