Measure ‘misery index’ of economy: Congress

Ranking based on unemployment, inflation, lending rates

January 30, 2020 10:11 pm | Updated 10:20 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Former Union Minister Manish Tewari. File

Former Union Minister Manish Tewari. File

India’s economy needs to be evaluated in terms of the global misery index (GMI), the Congress said on Thursday. The benchmark measures people’s “misery score” based on parameters such as unemployment and inflation rate instead of the conventional gross domestic product (GDP), it said.

At a press conference at the party’s headquarters just days ahead of the Budget, former Union Minister Manish Tewari said India now ranked high on the global misery index as it scored poorly on the key economic parameters factored in by the GMI.

“The first is the unemployment rate, the second is the inflation rate, the third is the lending rate and then you subtract the annualised growth of GDP from the sum total of these three rates. That gives you a score which really defines how miserable people living in a particular geography are,” said Mr. Tewari, who said the index was applied to global economies by American economist Steve Hanke.

Mr. Tewari said India’s poor ranking was a “direct result of the social disharmony that the BJP-NDA government had institutionalised”.

“Money is a coward and money goes to the safest harbour. Social disharmony cannot go hand-in-hand with economic growth,” he said.

“So, on the Misery Index, the NDA-BJP government is squarely in the red zone… GDP growth last year was the lowest in 11 years, private consumption was the lowest in seven years, investments were slowest in the last 17 years, manufacturing was at its lowest in 15 years and agriculture was the lowest in the last four years. So, every benchmark that you use actually validates the Misery Index,” the Congress leader said.

Also ahead of the Budget, former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said the country’s finances were in such a “mess” that whatever the government di now would have negative consequences.

In a series of tweets, Mr. Chidambaram said: “Remember there was a time when the highest personal income tax rate was brought down to 30% with no surcharge? Sadly, under the BJP government there can be no return to those rates because the BJP has messed up the country’s finances.”

“Besides, if the FM cuts personal income tax rates (following the cut in the corporate tax rate), it would be wrong at this point of time and will not serve the purpose of reviving demand. The correct tax to cut is GST, but the government has tied itself in knots that it cannot find a way to cut the GST rates,” he said.

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