The Narendra Modi govt has routinely released data on its performance in improving sanitation, electrification, roads, health, banking facility etc to bolster its claim of ushering development, but it has not released data on four important aspects: jobs, crime in India, farmers’ suicide and findings of the caste Census. Mukesh Rawat specially for the India Today.
India is in the middle of an election season and like any other election, numbers are flying thick and fast in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls too. The BJP-led NDA is trying to woo voters by projecting its performance in the past five years. Challenging this narrative is the Opposition which alleges that the ground reality is markedly different from the picture Prime Minister Narendra Modi paints about the status of development in the country.
In the past five years, the Modi government aggressively boasted data on its performance on various fronts.
The BJP’s manifesto for 2019 Lok Sabha election claims India is close to achieving 99 per cent sanitation in comparison to 38 per in 2014; all villages in India have been electrified and 91 per cent villages connected with roads; over 1.50 crore homes built for poor; 50 crore people to get health insurance under the Aayushman Bharat scheme, among other claims.
In the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the Narendra Modi government also asked all ministries to hold special press conferences and release data on their performance. In some form or the other, similar exercises were carried out by past governments too.
However, the Modi government has routinely faced allegations of misrepresenting key data. The latest controversy is on the revised GDP figures which critics argue is based on faulty parameters. (Read more on this here.)
While the government has been releasing a lot of data to bolster its claim of ushering development, in a diametrically opposite scenario, the Narendra Modi government has not released data on four important aspects: jobs, crime, farmers’ suicide and findings of the caste Census.
JOBS: VISIBLE CLAIMS, INVISIBLE DATA
During the campaign for the 2014 Lok Sabha election, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in November 2013 had promised to generate 1 crore jobs in the country. Five years on, the BJP claims that it has performed well in honouring this promise.
One of the important assessments of the state of employment in India is the report prepared by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO). However, the government has been reluctant in releasing NSSO’s report for 2017-18.
Media reports based on a leaked version of NSSO’s report on jobs in India have claimed that India is currently going through the highest levels of unemployment in the past 45 years.
Financial daily Business Standard broke the story on NSSO report. Referring to the report, it said, “The country’s unemployment rate stood at over a four-decade high of 6.1 per cent during 2017-18, compared to 2.2 per cent in 2011-12.”
In April, the Centre for Sustainable Employment in Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, released a report on the status of employment in the country. The report said at least 50 lakh Indian men lost their jobs between 2016 and 2018, adding that the overall loss of jobs in this period could be much more because the study focuses only on job loss among Indian men.
The easy way to quell these doubts about the status of employment in the country would have been to release the NSSO report. But the government has chosen not to do so.
RIOTS, RAPES & MURDERS: NO DATA SINCE 2016
The Union home ministry has a wing called the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). One of the primary tasks of the NCRB is to analyse crime data and prepare yearly reports to give an idea of the all-India scenario.
Since 1953, NCRB had been preparing annual reports titled ‘Crime in India’ revealing the prevalence of crime in the country.
The reports had detailed sections on riots, arson, crimes against women, atrocities committed against Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), murders, sedition cases, corruption offences, human trafficking, among others.
NCRB used to provide state-wise data on all these and a further breakdown of crime in major cities. In this way, analysis of reports over a period of time would give an idea if the overall crime is increasing or decreasing in India.
However, after 2016, the NCRB has not released any report on crime statistics.
The last report revealed that 14.4 per cent of all violent crimes in India were related to riots; 20.5 per cent were of kidnapping and abduction; and 9.1 per cent of rape.
The ‘Crime in India 2016’ report also stated that the overall crime figure in the country had increased by 2.6 per cent in 2016 in comparison to 2015. There were 72,829 cases of offences against public tranquility (law and order cases) of which 85.1 per cent were related to rioting.
The report showed that atrocities against SCs, STs and women had increased by 5.5 per cent, 4.7 per cent and 2.9 per cent respectively, between 2014-15 and 2015-16.
FARMER’S SUICIDE: DON’T KNOW HOW MANY
For decades, NCRB was also tasked with preparing annual reports on suicides committed by farmers. The data was released as part of the annual report titled ‘Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India’. This report was released since 1967.
Similar to the report on crime statistics, NCRB has not released any report on farmers’ suicide since 2015. This is despite routine media reports of farmers committing suicide in states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka among others.
In Parliament, various MPs have asked the Modi government about the latest figures on farmers’ suicide but the data that is quoted in the replies has been from the 2015 report.
The ‘Accidental Death and Suicide in India’ report for 2015 showed that every day at least 34 farmers committed suicide in India (12,602 suicides in the year). Most of these were reported in Maharashtra (37.8 per cent) followed by Telangana (16.9 per cent) and Karnataka (14.9 per cent).
The report said bankruptcy or indebtedness was the major cause for farmers’ suicide in the country.
Despite the report’s significance, NCRB has not released this report since 2015.
CASTE CENSUS: 9 YEARS ON, DATA AWAITED
When Census was carried out in 2011, it made headlines because it was the first time since 1931 that a separate data on India’s caste profile was to be prepared. The Manmohan Singh-led UPA 2 government had decided to include a separate column where people would be asked to fill details of their caste.
Nine years after the Census was carried out, the government is yet to release findings of Caste Census. The next census is due two years from now i.e. 2021.
Delay in releasing figures of Caste Census has triggered controversies in the past. Congress and the BJP have both been attacked for this delay. The UPA-2 government had four years to tabulate and release the data but it did not. Neither did the Narendra Modi government, which is near the end of its five-year tenure.
Data on these important aspects would have buttressed the government’s claim of better days.