New Delhi: In a sign of the hard times ahead for the country on the day Nirmala Sitharaman took over as India’s Finance Minister in the Modi 2.0 Cabinet, government data showed that India's economic growth rate had hit a five-year low of 5.8% in January-March 2018-19, falling much below China that has logged 6.4% growth. The economy’s poor performance was attributed to slowdown in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, official data released on Friday said.
Not just that, the government also officially reconfirmed a report that it had denied earlier. On Friday, it released the NSSO’s Periodic Labour Force report that had been reportedly held back by the Modi 1.0 government keeping elections in mind, showing the unemployment rate at a 45-year high at 6.1%. The official release of the report confirms high joblessness in the country which had been reported by Business Standard much before the elections were held when parts of the report were leaked. However, the government had that time vociferously denied the report, saying these were not the final figures.
In fact, the Modi 1.0 government had got the NITI Aayog to brief the media that these was only a ‘draft’ report and even questioned the ‘veracity’ of the data by the country’s premier statsitiscal bodies, the National Statistics Commission and the National Sample Survey Organisation.
“This is a draft report,” NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar has said at a press conference. “We need to publish data on a quarterly basis. The July 2017-December 2018 data has just been received. Therefore, we don’t know the data or the veracity of the data. Citing this data or comparing it with the 2011-12 data will not be correct”, he had said in January this year.
Following the government’s denial of the unemployment data, two top officials of the National Statistic Commission -- PC Mohanan and JV Meenakshi -- had resigned in protest.
The data released by the Labour Ministry on a day when Modi 2.0 Cabinet took charge, showed 7.8% of all employable urban youth being jobless, while the percentage for the rural was 5.3% -- a four-decade high.
Even as the government admitted to the bleak jobs scenario in the country, it also release GDP growth figures on Friday that cast a dark shadow over the economy in the coming days.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) also revealed that GDP growth during 2018-19 fiscal stood at 6.8%, lower than 7.2% in the previous financial year.
The growth in gross domestic poduct (GDP) was slowest since 2014-15. The previous low was 6.4% in 2013-14, which below China's 6.4%.
(with inputs from PTI)