A week after 108 economists and social scientists signed an appeal to protect the global reputation of India's statistics bodies, 131 Chartered Accountants (CAs) have come out with a joint statement to counter the allegation. The CAs, some of them known government sympathisers, said the earlier appeal was "politically motivated and baseless" and most "independent professionals have no doubt about the remarkable progress India has achieved in the last five years".
The signatories of the new list include eight former presidents of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), dozens of ICAI council members, independent practitioners with CA firms, entrepreneurs like T V Mohandas Pai, chairman, Manipal Group, and professionals in the field of finance, banking, among others. Reading out the statement, M Devaraja Reddy, former ICAI president said that their action was driven by national interest and not due to political considerations.
While the bulk of statements attempt to discredit the allegations raised by the economists and social scientists, the rest project the achievements of Narendra Modi government. "In a large country like India errors and omissions can happen while collecting and tabulating data. Data revisions are part of a healthy practice to balance between timeliness and accuracy. For example, the GDP data is normally revised five times before the final numbers are released. The five revisions happen as First Advance, Second Advance, Provisional, First Revised and Second Revised. Final GDP is revised after all these revisions, and this takes about three years. Such revisions are not statistics in shambles but a reflection of robustness of the process within the limitation of size and scale of data collection," the statement said.
The CA signatories said that the people who had criticised the government did not take into account the "fast pace of roads built, railway tracks laid, rural homes built, start ups hitting the skies, the huge number of jobs created in services," and many other actions taken by the government in the last five years. The list of achievements included "introduction of GST, formalisation of the economy through demonetisation, loopholes and leakage in money transfer to the poor being plugged through Jan Dhan Bank Accounts and Aadhaar, the tremendous increase in market capitalisation, direct and indirect tax collection increase, ease of doing business-rank jumping from 142 to 77, India's FDI inflow overtaking China, reduced interest rate on bank borrowings, the steep increase in tractor sales as a proxy indicator of agricultural development, introduction of insolvency and bankruptcy code leading to settlements of more than Rs 3 lakh crore, 'big boy' NPAs recognition and public auction of the same and a scandal free government".
"All this has helped India become the sixth largest economy in the world, the fastest ever jump in the last 5 years," they said, adding that India is poised to move on a higher growth trajectory provided such politically motivated attempts to discredit India and dent its credibility and progress is appropriately countered.