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Ups and downs in World Bank statistics

Ups and downs in World Bank statistics

The Gujarat elections are just around the corner and a report by the World Bank brings hope for the central government.

The report says that India has made immense progress in the matters related to the ease of doing business in the country. Legal and administrative procedures for starting as well as running a business and if needed to wind it up, have become less difficult. India which ranked 142 among the 190 countries in 2014 has jumped to 100. The tangles and the delay in getting the files moved have also diminished. Certain modifications in the procedures brought in positive outcomes. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley summoning a press conference, to reveal the details of the World Bank report even amid the reports of decline of the economic sector, might be anticipating a possibility of a campaign. However, it seems that the government is turning a blind eye towards or refusing to see certain other aspects related to the report. Firstly, the data that forms the basis of the report are not collected from across the country. The statistics from Delhi and Mumbai is the basis of the report. The fact is that these two big cities doesn’t reflect the industrial scenario of India. The World Bank report only means that doing business in both cities have become much easier; it might not hold true in the case of other cities in the country. It is true that paying taxes have become easier along with the advancement in ‘digitization’. But in the case of another index, the availability of electricity, things are not the same. Even if getting a connection is easier in Delhi and Mumbai, it is not the case in other cities. Sunil Bharti Mittal, one of the business giant in the country had said last week that even if the government is focused on the matter, the ease of doing business still remains a major concern.

Secondly, the figures which forms the basis of the World Bank report is valid only till June 30 this year. That means, the complications spawned by the Goods and Services Tax (GST) have not been included in the report. The mess, although temporary, as a result of the GST in the trade sector is not trivial. Therefore, the actual picture might be still worse in the World Bank ranking. Thirdly, there is another major sector that does not fall into the World Bank record of the organized and systematic trade sectors. The report has not included the sector that has been witnessing a total decline after demonetisation and the introduction of the GST.

Not coming under the ‘ease of doing business’ criteria of the World Bank doesn’t make it less of a reality. Fourthly, there is another yardstick as well for determining the soundness of the trade sector although it does not come under the World Bank standards. It is the state of the employment sector. Given that about 10 lakh people are currently in search of jobs, the decline in the field will greatly affect the country’s economy; though it does not in any way affect the ‘ease in doing business’. It is also not right to present this ease as the wellness of the economy. The data showing the decline of growth rate in the previous six terms is an example. The figures related to the huge loss of employment opportunities in almost all trade and business sectors, are also available. International Food Policy Research Institute had recently released a report: our country ranks 100 among the 117 nations on the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2017 which shows that India is a land of the hungry. We have little to be proud of if aspects such as nutritious food, clean water, hygiene and shelter are analysed. A report on slavery across the modern world released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) says that India comes first in slavery; one crore 80 lakh people that constitute 1.4 per cent of the population, are victims of slavery. If needed, the experts at the Paris School of Economics will as well provide the figures of the poor turning poorer. According to them, the economic inequality is highly grave in India. More efforts will have to be put in in order to consider the fact, that only the ease in doing business, that too only in two big cities, have improved in certain aspects, as a testament of the wellness of the country’s economy as a whole.

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