Reviewing the fascinating book Progress by Swedish economic historian Johan Norberg, the Economist recently wrote, “People are predisposed to think that things are worse than they are, and they overestimate the likelihood of calamity. This is because they rely not on data, but on how easy it is to recall an example. And bad things are more memorable.”
These words aptly summarise the nature of the recent debate on growth in India. During 2014-15 to 2016-17, the real gross domestic product (GDP) at market prices grew 7.5% on average. This growth came on the heels of below-6% average growth during the last two years under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
However, when the Central Statistics Office (CSO) first released its estimate of robust 7.4% growth in 2014-15, most commentators including many of our leading economists rejected it arguing that it did not match their own assessment of reality on the ground. The common refrain was that the economy did not “feel” like it was growing at such a high rate.