Things are not looking so rosy at home for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he continues his world tour with the latest stop in Beijing, China.

Is Modi government's honeymoon already over on its first anniversary at the helm? Has the Indian economy really turned around? Is it really growing faster than China? Are Indian businesses doing better under the new government? Are investors more excited about India's prospects? Has Indian currency recovered to levels before its collapse in 2013? Is India any cleaner than it was last year? To answer these questions, let's look at some data:

1. Revision of GDP methodology by India's Central Statistical Office (CSO) to show it is growing faster than China has drawn serious skepticism, even derision by serious economists around the world. While India's boosters in the West are not only buying but applauding the new figures, Indian policy professionals at the nation's Central Bank and the Finance ministry are having a very hard time believing the new and improved GDP brought to the world by Indian government. Dissenters include Morgan Stanley's Ruchir Sharma, an Indian-American, who has called the new numbers a "bad joke" aimed at a "wholesale rewriting of history".

2. India's exports are continuing to drop. The trade data shows a sharper slowdown (21%) in exports than in imports (13%,  due to lower oil prices) for March, 2015.  Exports are down another 13.96% in April 2015. There is an overall decline in both for the year too, according to Seeking Alpha.

3. Large scale manufacturing in India continues to disappoint. Growth slowed in April 2015, according to HSBC India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) data. At 51.3 in April, down from 52.1 in March, the headline PMI points to slowing demand.

4. Mumbai stocks are among the worst performing in emerging markets. FII (foreign institutional investments) net outflows gave been of the order of Indian Rs 125 billion (about US$ 2 billion) over the past month. The stock market index has seen the biggest correction of 10 per cent in a short time, according to India's First Post.

5. In spite of Prime Minister Modi's high-profile campaign to improve hygiene,  India has been ranked near the bottom on access to clean water and sanitation. India has ranked 92 on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene  (WASH) Index developed by The Water Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Gillings School of Global Public Health in the US, far below Pakistan which ranked near the top in 5th position.

India's Economic Times has recently reported results of a survey of top CEOs.  Majority of them say that demand is depressed. "The bonhomie and cheer that greeted the arrival of the Modi government is replaced by a sombre mood and a grim acknowledgement of the realities of doing business in India," reports ET, as it captures the sentiment of the CEOs. The largest engineering conglomerate L and T has said some of its plants are idle as demand for capital goods is very weak. The Aditya Birla Group had deferred its revenue target of $65 billion by 3 years, to 2018.

A recent piece titled "Why India is Not A Buy in Current Environment" published by Seeking Alpha summarizes the current Indian situation as follows:

"While there are some who consider India to be the best emerging market and recommend it as such, my own assessment is different. Whether it's relatively high valuations, weak fundamentals with persistent deficits, government bonds under pressure, weakening currency, rebounding oil prices, declining confidence in the government and so on, India is facing a ton of headwinds going forward. Far too many to be a number one pick among emerging markets."

Modi government has to turn some of its election promises into action. Mr. Modi cannot rely on the benefit of the doubt because his honeymoon period is now over. He will be judged on what he is able to accomplish.

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Comment by Riaz Haq on May 18, 2015 at 9:14pm

After a long run as the emerging market equity sweetheart, investors may be falling out of love with India stocks.

"Prime Minister Modi's victory last May set the stage for a significant amount of reform optimism and encouraged portfolio inflows," HSBC said in a recent note. Now "India is the most over-owned equity market in Asia by mutual funds," it said, citing EPFR data. It cut its rating on the market to underweight from overweight.

"As other markets become more interesting, India could be used as a funding market," HSBC said.

Funds had flowed into the market in a wave of optimism after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept into power promising much-needed reforms. Some of those reforms have hit speed bumps recently, with parliamentary bills aimed at making for businesses to buy land and to reform taxes getting deferred earlier this month.

That may cool some of the optimism of foreign investors whose portfolio flows sent the Sensex surging nearly 29 percent last year, with index shedding around 0.6 percent year-to-date.

The vagaries of portfolio flows aren't the only reason HSBC is looking askance at the market, with the bank also citing concerns about earnings.

"India is one of the markets across the region to have witnessed the highest number of earnings downgrades," HSBC said, noting consensus estimates for this year have fallen by more than 5 percent over the past three months.

"Weaker earnings growth expectations will, by definition, alter earnings based valuations for the market. India's price-to-earnings (P/E) valuations therefore remain elevated. India is currently the second-most expensive market in Asia in terms of 12-month forward P/E," it said.

Bemoaning that it didn't go underweight sooner, Credit Suisse said it appeared to be "paying the price for not heeding our valuation model."

India equities are among Asia's most expensive, the bank said in a note earlier this month.

"We had overridden our valuation model as we believed India combined rising ROE (return on equity) with falling COE (cost of equity). But the ROE recovery appears to have been delayed," Credit Suisse said.

"With investors asking whether it is time to buy India, we suggest not yet," it said, adding that the market's valuations remain among the region's most expensive and year-to-date foreigners remain net buyers.

"Given the downside risks to growth, heightened uncertainty around inflation outlook and slower than expected progress on reforms, we see risk of a more prolonged corrective phase," Goldman Sachs said in a note Friday. But it added, "We see our longer-term positive view on Indian equities firmly intact and remain overweight India in a regional context."

The country's economy is still broadly expected to improve, with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in March forecasting growth of 7.8 percent in fiscal 2015-16, up from 7.4 percent in the previous fiscal year, and then rise to 8.2 percent in fiscal 2016-17 as planned reforms start to improve confidence and external demand appears likely to pick up.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 19, 2015 at 4:48pm

Almost exactly a year later, some Indian market-watchers are getting impatient for better days. (Tweet This)
"Modi has been high on rhetoric and short on delivery in his first year, and his many constituencies feel they have been fed empty promises," said Manu Bhagavan, a professor of history at Hunter College in New York.

Economists and investors trumpeted Modi as a sort of Ronald Reagan of India, a man who could get down to business and prescribe the right medicine for the country's heavily regulated economy.
Global leaders have been getting in line to meet and greet Modi, who most recently visited China, where he was seen taking a selfie with Premier Li Keqiang.

"As branding exercises go, it's been a performance worthy of Madison Avenue," said Bhagavan.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 16, 2015 at 7:47am

#Modi's #India’s exports contract for a sixth month, down 20.2% in May - Livemint #MakeInIndia

The Indian commerce ministry announced on Tuesday that India’s exports fell 20.2 percent compared with the same month last year (LiveMint, Reuters). This announcement makes May the sixth consecutive month in which exports have fallen and this is the the longest such streak since 2009. The ministry also announced that imports fell by 16.5 percent, bringing the overall trade deficit to a 3 month low. According to the data gathered by Bloomberg, in May, oil imports fell 41 percent to $8.53 billion, non-oil imports fell 2.2 percent to $24.21 billion however gold imports grew 10.5 percent to $2.42 billion. A weakening rupee and an acceleration in inflation indicates maneuverability is decreasing for Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan to lower interest rates any further. RBI has already cut the interest rates in the country three times this year.

The Indian rupee touched the day’s low soon after the data. The currency has weakened 2.1% over the past three months, the fourth-worst performance among 24 emerging market currencies tracked by Bloomberg. Bloomberg

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 15, 2015 at 4:45pm

India leaving China behind? Not so fast

The ‘bright spot’ of emerging markets promises much but has yet to deliver

The truth may finally be wearing off the old saying that India only ever compares itself with itself. As the Indian economy has proved to be one of the least dim spots in a gloomy emerging market landscape, boasts are multiplying that it is overtaking China as the engine of world expansion. Jayant Sinha, India’s junior finance minister, recently laid down the bold prediction that “in coming days, India will leave China behind as far as growth and development matter”.
Not, as it were, so fast. While India’s short-term macroeconomic performance has put it at a better place in the cycle than most big emerging markets, the longer-term structural problems that have kept it in a lower growth class than China unfortunately persist, as do the political elephant traps awaiting intrepid reformers.

On the face of it, the Indian economy is performing well, and the popularity of Narendra Modi, the prime minister elected on the promise of liberalising reform last year, is holding up. Christine Lagarde, IMF managing director, has referred to India as a “bright spot” in the slowing global economy. Growth equalled China’s last year at 7.3 per cent, and the IMF predicts India will be the fastest-growing large economy in the world this year.
The reality is less encouraging. For one, the statistics may quite simply be wrong. A new data series for GDP introduced in February did much of the work in raising India’s growth rate near China’s, and the numbers, with a short history and without detailed data to underpin them, sit at odds with other indicators such as industrial production and imports.
Second, the current conjuncture has been delivered by a number of one-off factors. The falling global oil price since late 2014 has benefited India both in holding down inflation and in helping Mr Modi reform public finances by cutting expensive government fuel subsidies without raising the price to consumers.
Third, substantial impediments remain to the challenge of increasing investment, particularly in infrastructure, to unlock India’s potential for competing with east Asian countries for the manufacturing industry currently being priced out of China by rising wages and costs. Growth in manufacturing came to a halt between 2012 and 2014 after several years of expansion, casting severe doubts on its underlying momentum.

Mr Modi’s government insists it will push on with reform but, given the snarl-ups in parliament over the summer, his political space is shrinking. An important test of his government’s political momentum comes next month in the state elections in Bihar. The eastern state has long been one of India’s poorest and, while it has been growing rapidly, it has struggled to expand its manufacturing sector. If Mr Modi’s message of clearing away the impediments to investment does not resonate, it does not bode well for his chances of maintaining momentum into next year.
For the moment, it seems that India will be happy being regarded as a standout in the otherwise disappointing emerging market class. If its cyclical advantage fades and it returns to its familiar sub-China levels of growth, its politicians are unlikely to be so vainglorious.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 12, 2016 at 2:50pm

’s confusingly speedy economy and very own deflator problem | FT Alphaville

India’s confusingly speedy economy and very own deflator problem



Sorry. Got carried away by charts like this one from BofAML:

Or this one from Deutsche that has India growing at 7.8 per cent in 2017 (with inflation running at a v decent 5 per cent):

Thing is, and as we’ve written before, there is still a lack of confidence in India’s recently updated economic growth series showing up in our inboxes even as the room for caveats in the media gets increasingly squeezed — the validity of such stats tend to be less relevant when they’re telling a positive story, no?

Anyway, here’s BNP Paribas’ Richard Iley giving the scepticism some welcome space a little while ago: “The turn in the capex cycle is still tentative, a number of key indicators, such as credit growth, still signal relatively sluggish growth momentum and the rebasing of India’s national accounts, which has lifted GDP growth, continues to be taken with at least a pinch of salt.”

And here’s a few more up to date paragraphs from Macquarie, which dropped after the most recent print at the end of November (our emphasis):

Notwithstanding the reported real GDP growth numbers, a common question that we keep getting from investors is whether the Indian economy is actually growing above the 7% mark when essentially it still feels around 6% looking at the onground reality and global situation…

The good …: As we have been highlighting, there are some green shoots emerging, especially on the public capex front and urban consumption. There have been policy efforts over the past few months to revive projects in the roads, railways, mining and power sectors by (a) easing investment bottlenecks, including facilitating environmental and forest clearances, ensuring coal availability, steps toward labour market reforms, etc; (b) a cumulative 125bp cut in policy rates; and (c) encouraging capex spending by cash-rich PSUs. We believe these have helped to provide a bounce in investment activity picking up on a low base. Similarly, the upcoming revision in salaries under the 7th PC (link) effective Jan-16 contained inflationary pressures and subdued global commodity prices that will help support private consumption over the coming months, especially in urban areas.

… and the bad: The corporate earnings downgrade cycle continues, with the street having downgraded Nifty estimates by around 15–17% since the beginning of the year. Bank credit growth remained sluggish at 9.3% YoY for the Sept-15 quarter. Banking sector pressure continues, with nearly 13–15% of the book being stressed. Private corporate capex is yet to bounce back meaningfully, and rural consumption has slowed significantly, led by weak monsoons and curtailment in government spending. A weak global economy, too, is holding back capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector and exports.

But even leaving all of that high frequency, real economy, stuff aside, one glaring problem in this new GDP series appears to lie in the deflator — the inflation measure used to convert estimates of nominal GDP into real, inflation-adjusted terms and which will cue China comparison klaxons. More particularly, it lies in the services deflator.

Here’s SocGen’s India economist Kunal Kumar Kundu:

Even as most analysts have focused on India’s better than expected real economic growth (7.4% yoy for both gross value added, or GVA, and GDP), many have failed to notice the remarkably low growth in nominal terms (5.2% for GVA [Ed - GVA + taxes on products - subsidies on products = GDP] and 6.0% for GDP), as we noted here. The culprit was the deflator, as it indicated a worrying deflationary tendency…

The really interesting/ dodgy thing here is that, as HSBC say, growth in the services deflator, which is infamous for high and sticky prices, was actually running below the industry deflator. Which is “odd because manufacturing and industry at large should be the prime beneficiaries of falling commodity prices and as such should run below services (which is largely non-tradable) inflation”:

The suspicion is that deflators have been underestimated because the services deflator has been pegged more to the wholesale price index than to the consumer price index. And, er, it’s not a component in the India WPI basket.

From Kumar Kundu again:

For India, the bigger challenge is the deflator method that is followed for the service sector. While manufacturing is part of the WPI (and the GVA manufacturing deflator unsurprisingly follows WPI-manufacturing), services are not. Yet, the GDP service sector deflator mimicking the WPI raises a fundamental question as to how a component that does not exist in the WPI basket can be deflated by WPI.

With services accounting for about 60% of the GVA, the type of deflator used becomes crucial. Using the deflator method, services have seemingly been in deflation for three continuous quarters, including inflation of -2.5% yoy during Q3 2015. On the other hand, India’s service sector inflation, which has only recently been included in the country’s national CPI, remains positive, with an increasing divergence away from the GVA service sector deflator.

And HSBC say that “Correcting the CPI/WPI ratio since the start of the new national accounts series, we find that on average GVA deflators may be underestimated by over 100bp and therefore real GVA growth could possibly be overestimated by around the same amount.”

It’s a pretty obvious contrast between the new and old methods of measurement when charted:

No-one is saying there is anything particularly sinister behind this confusion, even if said confusion extends beyond the deflator. Nor should the actual level of economic growth, versus the effect of that growth, be given undue importance. It’s just… confusing. For everyone, including the RBI.

Which is perhaps appropriate considering the size and lack of development of India’s economy — somewhere around half of India’s GDP and 90 per cent of it’s employment are informal, so GDP reporting isn’t the easiest task. As Credit Suisse wrote in a previous note, “Unlike in the developed economies where informality is purely a deliberate choice to avoid taxation or regulations, in India it is more structural: a reflection of the lack of development and limited government reach.”

But, if you’re feeling less kind… here’s Kumar Kundu one more time:

With the new GDP series continuing to raise more questions…. than it answers, continuing with the WPI as the method of deflating the economy further adds to the poor quality of data. It is no coincidence that the RBI has started to focus on CPI and not WPI as a more important variable in monetary policy action. India’s Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) clearly has a lot more questions to answer.

More so, you’d hope that high headline growth rates don’t distract from the need for reform and legislation in an country that needs to generate something like 1m jobs a month to take advantage of its demographic dividend – or to put it even more starkly, India is where almost one in five of all global jobs must be created in the next several decades.

Hard to spot acknowledgment of that urgency in India’s parliament at the moment.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 28, 2016 at 8:04pm

Reserve Bank of #India Governor Raghuram Rajan sceptical about GDP calculation. #Modi #BJP via @sharethis

Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan on Thursday raised a question mark over the way gross domestic product (GDP) is calculated in the country stating that “we get growth because people (are) moving into different areas”.
Value addition to the GDP is important when people move into newer areas of work rather than just a rise in the growth numbers, Rajan said while asserting the need to be careful in counting GDP numbers. Industry experts and economists had in the past expressed skepticism over the calculation of GDP numbers according to the new methodology.
“So, in that sense we have to be a little careful about how we count GDP because some time we get growth because people (are) moving into different areas. It is important that when they move into different areas they are actually doing something which is more value added,” Rajan said.
Speaking at the 13th convocation ceremony of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research in Mumbai, the RBI Governor gave an example of two neighbouring mothers who babysit each other’s child and get paid an equal salary. He said both the mothers getting paid a salary will be an addition to the GDP but may not be an exact reflection of an economic growth.
“If mother A went to look after the children of mother B and mother B went to look after the children of mother A, and they each paid each other an equal amount, GDP would go up by the sum of the two salaries. But would the economy be better off? Presumably, kids want their own mother rather than the neighbouring mother. And the economy would be worse off,” Rajan observed.
According to the government’s mid-year economic review, the economy is now expected to grow at 7-7.5 per cent in the fiscal year ending March 2016, down from an estimate of 8.1-8.5 per cent announced in the Budget in February. In January 2015, the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi changed the base year for computing national accounts which pushed up the economic growth rate for 2013-14 to 6.9 per cent, while earlier estimate on the basis of old series was 4.7 per cent. These changes follow a revision in the base for calculating national accounts to 2011-12 from 2004-05.
Pranab Bardhan, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who was the guest of honour at the event raised the point on the possibility of restructuring the current system of capital subsidies to wage subsidies through which the business sector could be actively involved in worker training programmes as well as identifying good workers. Supporting the issue, Rajan stated there is a need for incentivising employment rather than providing subisidies on capital. “Apart from direct tax benefits for investment, we also give subvention on loans in many situations which subsidises capital. We may not do similar things for labour. Clearly, trying to incentivise the employment which will add skills to labour is extremely important,” Rajan added.
- See more at:

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 29, 2016 at 8:19am

It is time we ( #India )stop thumping our chests for being "fastest-growing economy" #Modi #BJP via @firstpost

You can trust Raghuram Rajan, the Reserve Bank Governor, to prick any balloon of excess optimism when required. Even as the idea of India being the fastest-growing major economy in the world gets bandied about carelessly, especially by politicians who would like to claim credit for it, Rajan had this to say yesterday (28 January): "There are problems with the way we count GDP, which is why we need to be careful sometimes just talking about growth."
Nor does talk of India overtaking China on growth make much sense. At five times India's GDP, our 7 percent economic growth equals under 1.5 percent China's growth in terms of its impact on global growth. China may be reeling under excessive debt and is painfully readjusting its economic engine towards domestic consumption, but India's problems are hardly any less stark. We have a corporate sector staggering under loads of debt, and banks that would be heading towards bankruptcy if they were not government-owned.
The problem with us is that we tend to celebrate success a bit too soon; even if politicians feel the need to claim success even if it was largely due to luck, there is no need for the media to keep claiming that we are the fastest growing economy. India reforms only when it is on the brink of economic disaster - as was the case in 1991 - and trying to pretend that all is hunky-dory is the last thing we need. We continue to be in deep trouble, and even though there is slow improvement in the growth cycle, we are far from being home and dry. And the seven percent growth we have taken for granted for now can be yanked from under us if there is a meltdown in China or another 2008.
India's misfortune is that we shifted to a new way of measuring GDP - gross value added - just when the government changed. So we have new data from the ministry of corporate affairs' five lakh company database whose validity we have no clue about adding to the confusion, as Rajan pointed out. This has given the NDA government unnecessary bragging rights.
Caculated on the more accepted old GDP methodology, we are probably more at six percent growth than seven percent.
The latest bank results - from ICICI Bank and Axis Bank - show that the rotten loan portfolio has now begun to infect even private sector banks. ICICI Bank reported a near one percent rise in gross non-performing assets in the December quarter, which sends a worrying signal. The bad loans scenario is clearly a bigger problem than we thought earlier.
This means the Modi government has much more work to do before it can claim some degree of success in turning around the economy. The UPA has handed it a poisoned chalice which it has been drinking heartily from, assuming it was amrut. Not quite.
Consider the mess it has inherited in so many sectors, and why cheap oil alone will not help.
First, cheap commodity prices help the government bring down inflation and the subsidy bill, but it also depresses the profits of oil and coal companies, and has roiled the steel sector.
Second, the mess in corporate and bank balance-sheets ensures that there is no stock market nirvana. Loads of public sector equity can't be sold as petroleum and banking stocks are a huge part of the indices and prices are deadbeat.
Third, big bills are coming up on one-rank-one-pension and the Seventh Pay Commission. The only way to pay these bills is to let the fiscal deficit go where it will in 2016-17 and rein it in from the year after.
One hopes the finance minister bited the bullet fully in his next budget.
Fourth, the UPA left the infrastructure and real estate sectors - two of the biggest potential job creators - grinding to a halt. Reviving both will be a herculean task.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 2, 2016 at 8:44am

#India revises recent past GDP growth estimates downwards. Not growing faster than #China

India's government said Friday that economic expansion in the past few years was slightly slower than previously estimated, in the first revision to controversial new statistics that show India zooming ahead of China in 2015 to become the world's fastest-growing major economy.

Year-over-year growth in India's output was 7.2% for the 12 months that ended March 31, 2015, the Statistics Ministry said, down from the previous calculation of 7.3%. For the year prior, the growth estimate was cut to 6.6% from 6.9%. Expansion in the year before that was bumped up to 5.6% from an initial reading of 5.1%.

The scheduled updates were the first tweaks to India's data on annual gross domestic product since the country's statisticians a year ago revamped their methods and data sources for estimating GDP, a broad measure of an economy's total output.

Friday's modest revisions, based on additional data that have come in since last year, are likely to reassure analysts and India watchers that the new figures are trustworthy.

They also lend credence to the perhaps more-startling conclusion yielded by the revised calculations: that at 7% or more in the first three quarters of 2015, India's growth is besting China's as the latter country's construction and investment boom cools.

Questions about India's new statistics are likely to persist, however.

"Understanding the real economy and the pace and strength of economic recovery is unusually difficult this year," the Finance Ministry wrote in a December paper.

Last year's GDP revision was long in the works, part of a regular process of updating the reference year for marking economic trends. Indian statisticians tapped fresh data on mom-and-pop stores, mutual funds and livestock. They also adopted techniques that bring the GDP computation more in line with United Nations guidelines.

Few economists believe India's statistics suffer from political meddling, as is widely thought to be the case in China. But even Indian officials have been flummoxed by the disparity between the fast clip of GDP growth and other signs that the economy has for years been plodding ahead at best.

In 2012, the government's budget deficit swelled, sapping private investment. Inflation shot up. Corruption scandals hurt the credibility of the administration of the day, led by the Congress party.

India was also battered by global forces. In 2013, after the U.S.Federal Reserve hinted that it might soon taper its bond-buying program, capital that had been funding higher-yielding investments in emerging markets suddenly took flight. The rupee plunged, impelling the central bank to keep interest rates high.

By the old GDP numbers, 2013 and 2014 were the first two fiscal years to see consecutive growth of below 5% since the 1980s.

Now, by Friday's updated data, growth in those years was 5.6% and 6.6%, respectively. If output was expanding so quickly even in that period of tumult, some economists hypothesize, then at full steam India's annual growth could be in the double digits.

That will be hard to confirm without more years of revised GDP estimates. The statistics office says it is still working to produce refreshed figures from as far back as 2005. Output data for the final quarter of 2015, and the first advance estimate of growth in the 12 months that end on March 31, are due to be released on Feb. 8.

"More than the revision, what we're keen on is what's happening with the past series," said Anurag Jha, a Citigroup Inc. economist in Mumbai. Right now, he said, "we are working with all these uncertainties."

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 14, 2016 at 10:12pm

Huge fire engulfs #Mumbai 'Make in #India' stage as politicians, #Bollywood elite flee the show. #MakeInIndia @CNN 
It was a night meant to showcase the best of Indian culture, innovation and talent but a huge blaze that broke out abruptly canceled a Mumbai "Make in India" cultural event.

The fire started during a traditional performance, sending the 25,000 people in attendance at Girgaum Chowpatty beach fleeing, including high profile politicians and Indian cinema stars Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan, according to local media.

The week-long event is the result of a push started by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2014 and part of a wider set of nation-building initiatives and a drive to attract foreign investors.

Video footage shows initially unaware performers dancing on stage even as the fire starts to spread beneath them. Members of the crowd who are evacuating the building wave to them to alert them to the danger.

Fourteen fire engines and 10 water tankers rushed to the venue, according to Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of the Maharahstra state, who was at the event. Despite the dramatic scene, there were no reports of fatalities or injuries.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 31, 2016 at 9:34pm

The Little Big Number: How GDP Came to Rule the World and What to Do about It Hardcover – May 26, 2015
by Dirk Philipsen (Author)

In one lifetime, GDP, or Gross Domestic Product, has ballooned from a narrow economic tool into a global article of faith. It is our universal yardstick of progress. As The Little Big Number demonstrates, this spells trouble. While economies and cultures measure their performance by it, GDP ignores central facts such as quality, costs, or purpose. It only measures output: more cars, more accidents; more lawyers, more trials; more extraction, more pollution--all count as success. Sustainability and quality of life are overlooked. Losses don't count. GDP promotes a form of stupid growth and ignores real development.

How and why did we get to this point? Dirk Philipsen uncovers a submerged history dating back to the 1600s, climaxing with the Great Depression and World War II, when the first version of GDP arrived at the forefront of politics. Transcending ideologies and national differences, GDP was subsequently transformed from a narrow metric to the purpose of economic activity. Today, increasing GDP is the highest goal of politics. In accessible and compelling prose, Philipsen shows how it affects all of us.

But the world can no longer afford GDP rule. A finite planet cannot sustain blind and indefinite expansion. If we consider future generations equal to our own, replacing the GDP regime is the ethical imperative of our times. More is not better. As Philipsen demonstrates, the history of GDP reveals unique opportunities to fashion smarter goals and measures. The Little Big Number explores a possible roadmap for a future that advances quality of life rather than indiscriminate growth.

The book advocates ditching GDP
completely, and having a national dialogue
about economic goals based on
the principles of sustainability, equity,
democratic accountability, and economic
viability. It isn’t clear how this
prescription fits with the several “dashboard”
initiatives under way now, which
are described here. Named in a nod to
the kind of indicator dashboards many
companies use, these include a number
of indicators meant to capture a broader
sense of social well-being, such as worklife
balance, environmental quality, and
civic engagement. They were recommended
by the influential Stiglitz-SenFitoussi
Commission in its 2009 report.
The dashboard approach is
attractive, as is public consultation.
However, it isn’t yet clear which dashboard
is best or what should go in it.
So the real need now in order to
create a “Beyond GDP” set of social
accounts is for the hard grind of the
kind that the forerunners and creators
of modern national accounts, Simon
Kuznets, Richard Stone, and James
Meade and their many colleagues, sustained
through the 1930s and 1940s in
creating GDP in the first place.
Some nominal aggregate measure
of activity is necessary for fiscal
and monetary policy. The national
accounts statistics as a whole also
contain a lot of the material that could
furnish a meaningful dashboard,
so again it would be a waste of an
intellectual asset to ditch all of that.
However, the answer to the underlying
question, are we going to move
“beyond GDP”? is a resounding “yes.”
Diane Coyle


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    Pakistan is a young nation with a lot of unrealized potential. As the country turns 75, it is important to recognize that all basic indicators of progress such as income, employment, education, health, nutrition, electricity use, telecommunications and transportation have shown significant improvements over the last seven and a half decades. These improvements can be accelerated if Pakistan can overcome its economic …


    Posted by Riaz Haq on August 13, 2022 at 6:00pm — 3 Comments

    Nehru's Secularism Was An Aberration; Modi's Islamophobia is the Norm For India

    As India and Pakistan turn 75, there are many secular intellectuals on both sides of the border who question the wisdom of "the Partition" in 1947. They dismiss what is happening in India today under Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership as a temporary aberration, not the norm. They long for a return to "Indian liberalism" which according to anthropologist Sanjay…


    Posted by Riaz Haq on August 12, 2022 at 9:00am — 15 Comments

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