In a body blow to yet another institution in the Modi government, the two remaining members of the National Statistical Commission have resigned in protest at the body being side-lined.
The Hindu has learnt that P.C. Mohanan and J.V. Meenakshi tendered their resignations on Monday, leaving the NSC with only Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, who serves as an ex-officio member, and Chief Statistician of India Pravin Srivastava.
According to people in the know, Monday’s resignations stem from the fact that the NSC has not only been running at half strength, with the government moving very slowly on appointing new members, but also because the institution has been “systematically bypassed in its functions.” One main grievance was the manner in which the back series GDP data was released. That is, the involvement of NITI Aayog at the expense of the Commission was a cause for conflict.
“There are a lot of incidents, but there are two big ones,” a former member of the Commission said. “The first is the back series data. You have a situation where a sub-committee of the Commission comes out with a back series. The Commission does not necessarily endorse it. It puts it out for public discussion. Then the Ministry comes out with its own back series.
“The proper way would have been for the Ministry to have put this back series in front of the Commission and consulted it on which of the two estimates to go by, what to do. They were not consulted at all. This data was essentially discussed with Niti Aayog and it was Niti Aayog that spearheaded the release and not the Commission.”
The second cause for protest was that the NSC had finalised the employment and unemployment data it wanted to release, had approved it on December 5, and said it should be released immediately. “It has not been released,” the former member said. “So finally they said, why have us? If you are going to NITI Aayog for direction, then why have us?”
“If these are the circumstances, then the members have sufficient justification to resign,” said former chairman of NSC Pronab Sen.