With the Indian economy contracting by 23.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, former Union finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram termed the GDP numbers an “economic tragedy”, and said the “country was paying a heavy price” for the “nonchalant and uncaring” attitude of the Modi government.
“GDP in the first quarter has declined by a whopping 23.9 per cent. That means, about one quarter of the gross domestic output as on 30-6-2019 has been wiped out in the last 12 months. Another way of looking at it is, since the end of 2019-20, the gross domestic output has fallen by about 20 per cent,” Chidambaram said.
“The only sector that has grown is Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing at 3.4 per cent. The Finance Minister who blamed an ‘Act of God’ for the economic decline should be grateful to the farmers and the gods who blessed the farmers,” he added.
The Congress leader said the GDP estimates “do not come as a surprise to us”, but “should be a matter of surprise to the government that was seeing ‘green shoots’ on several days during the first quarter.”
“They should also be a matter of shame to the government that did nothing — literally nothing — to cushion the fall by taking suitable fiscal and welfare measures, but we know that the Modi government has no shame and will not acknowledge its mistakes,” Chidambaram said.
Pointing out that the RBI had said the contraction in the first half of 2020 would be ‘deeper and more destructive than the Great Depression and the Global Financial Crisis (of 2008)’, the former finance minister said: “The economic tragedy was foretold by many close observers of the Indian economy, most recently by the RBI in its Annual Report released a few days ago.”
“We had warned the government and we had urged the government to take preventive and pre-emptive measures. Our pleas fell on deaf ears. The country, as a whole, is paying a heavy price, the poor and the vulnerable are in despair. It is only the Modi government that was nonchalant and uncaring. The government peddled a fake narrative, but that narrative has been exploded today by the CSO estimates,” Chidambaram said.
“Let me say with regret: it will take many months before the economy turns the corner and registers positive growth. The inaction and ineptitude of the government gives us no hope that we will see light at the end of the tunnel at any time soon,” he added.
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