Are India’s GDP Figures Accurate?

India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated to be 6.2% for 2019, while growth for the first quarter of the current financial year (FY) was 5%—the lowest in six years—according to data released by the Indian government. However, experts fear that even these figures may be an overestimation. In 2015, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) revised the base year of GDP calculation from 2004–05 to 2011–12, which caused the GDP to increase from 4.2% to 6.8% for FY 2013–14, and growth in the manufacturing sector to move from -0.7% to 5.3%. Arvind Subramanian, India’s former Chief Economic Advisor also cautioned against these figures, saying that India’s actual GDP between 2011–12 and 2016–17 is around 4.5%, as opposed to the official figure of 7%. 

Biswanath Goldar’s 2015 article argues in favour of the revision in base year, and the updated growth figures which saw manufacturing output in the country go from -0.7% to 5.3%. R Nagaraj and Surajit Mazumdar respond to Goldar, questioning the data from the new series. Nagaraj argues that other macroeconomic indicators in the country point to an economic downturn, while Mazumdar writes that the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) data contradicts Goldar’s claims of manufacturing growth. 

Ashima Goyal also adds to the discussion, attempting to balance the debate. While Goyal justifies the higher GDP, she cautions against assuming that the Indian industry is healthy. 

A few other works that are broadly related to this discussion:

  1. Questionable Data, Inaccurate Assumptions: Examining India’s GDP Figures, EPW Engage, 2019
  2. Quarterly GDP Estimation: Can It Pick Up Demonetisation Impact? R Nagaraj, 2017
  3. Changing Dynamics of Inflation in India, Ravindra H Dholakia and Virinchi S Kadiyala, 2018
  4. Continuous Revisions Cast Doubts on GDP Advance Estimates, J Dennis Rajakumar and S L Shetty, 2016
  5. Manufacturing Output in New GDP Series: Some Methodological Issues, Ravindra H Dholakia, R Nagaraj, and Manish Pandya, 2018

Ed: To contribute to a more comprehensive discussion map, please share links to other relevant articles in the comments section or write to us at with the subject line—"GDP and Industry."


Curated by Kieran Lobo []


Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/Natfert/CC BY 3.0

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