In a democratic society, truth should be the bedrock upon which policies are built. However, under the current BJP government, truth has been replaced by a narrative that serves the interests of one man: Narendra Modi. This dangerous trend of distorting facts and suppressing evidence not only undermines the integrity of India’s statistical systems but also jeopardizes the well-being of its citizens. The abandonment of established data collection method, such as the National Sample Survey established by PC Mahalanobis, following the 2017-18 Survey, which revealed a significant decline in per capita rural consumption compared to 2011-12, particularly in real terms, is a troubling sign of the government’s willingness to manipulate information to fit its agenda. The discontinuation of this survey, coupled with the cessation of the census, suggests an effort to shield Prime Minister Modi’s claims from scrutiny. Additionally, the government’s abandonment of the International Labour Organization’s definition of unpaid work further obscures the true extent of the unemployment crisis.
By disregarding inconvenient truths, Modi’s administration is dismantling vital tools for objective analysis and decision-making. The recent budget speech by the finance minister exemplifies this disregard for truth. The finance minister boasted, claiming a remarkable 50 percent increase in the country’s average real income, presumably over the last decade. However, it’s crucial to clarify that this assertion pertains solely to per capita income, overlooking the majority of the population’s income levels. Relying solely on this metric to gauge national economic prosperity is inherently misleading. Moreover, the undeniable increase in nutritional poverty between 2011-12 and 2017-18, particularly in rural India, casts doubt on any notion of widespread improvement.
Alarmingly, the latest Periodic Labour Force Survey confirms a staggering 20 percent decline in average monthly real wages nationwide between 2017-18 and 2022-23 indicating a concerning economic trajectory. Despite claims of economic prosperity, indicators such as declining rural wages and stagnant employment paint a grim picture of the Modi years. Furthermore, the government’s economic strategy, focused on capital expenditure and loans to private capitalists, fails to address the root causes of economic stagnation. By neglecting measures to improve living standards and stimulate domestic demand, the budget prioritizes fiscal austerity over the well-being of the people.
Reducing subsidies on essential goods and maintaining stagnant expenditure on employment schemes exacerbate the plight of vulnerable populations. The government’s touted “fiscal prudence” rings hollow in the face of persistent economic challenges and dismal international credit ratings. It is imperative for the government to acknowledge the reality of the economic downturn and prioritize policies that uplift the marginalized. A genuine commitment to improving living standards through increased transfers and higher wages would not only benefit the population but also stimulate economic growth by expanding domestic demand. The erosion of truth and statistical integrity must be addressed urgently to safeguard the integrity of India’s democratic institutions. Modi’s relentless pursuit of his narrative at the expense of truth and statistical integrity threatens to undermine the welfare of the Indian population. The Modi government must prioritize transparency and evidence-based policymaking to restore trust and effectively address the pressing challenges facing the nation.