Yesterday, at a function of the Institute of the Company Secretaries of India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to defend his Government’s performance on the economic front. With a series of charts, facts and figures, he rebutted doomsday predictions by some in the media. One statement by him though was picked up for deeper scrutiny.
Modi said that RBI has predicted 7.7% growth in the coming quarters:
RBI has predicted 7.7% growth in the coming quarters: PM Narendra Modi in Delhi pic.twitter.com/1Vtth1abUW
— ANI (@ANI) October 4, 2017
This speech came just hours after RBI’s monetary policy announcement. Very soon, people began comparing RBI’s statements with Modi’s claims. Deputy National Editor of The Hindu, had this to say:
They lowered projections to 6.7% in FY18, Mr PM. Follow the right people instead of buffoons & bigots on your TL & you will get right info. https://t.co/6vtLh3cNk5
— Srinivasan Ramani (@vrsrini) October 4, 2017
He further comically claimed, in a now deleted tweet, that the next quarter was Q1 (April to June), that Q4 is four quarters away, and even that the PM was referring to Q4 of next year!
Another columnist with The Hindu, said this:
The official who briefed the PM on this should be fired. The RBI Governor said today that the growth projection stands revised DOWN to 6.7%. https://t.co/w0ZfvZ5Rs8
— Puja Mehra (@pujamehra) October 4, 2017
One would expect The Hindu journalists to be more careful with facts, considering just 24 hours back they were forced to withdraw a fake story after OpIndia called out their lies. Further, Senior Assistant Editor of The Hindu Vijaita Singh, re-tweeted a tweet which claimed that the RBI had initially given one figure, Modi quoted another, and then in hindsight, RBI modified its statement to save Modi:
When the media is out on full throttle, how can rival political parties be left behind. Sitaram Yechury of the CPI also claimed that Modi “changed” the RBI’s data:
In PM’s Jumlanomics speech, RBI’s GVA projection of 6.7% was changed by him to 7.7%. How do you trust the data he throws around?
— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) October 4, 2017
National Coordinator of the Congress Social Media Team also made similar claims:
— Vinay Kumar Dokania (@vinaydokania) October 4, 2017
Another user associated with Congress’s social media team tweeted the same:
Either the Prime Minister is uninformed or deliberately lying. In both cases, it’s disastrous for India !! pic.twitter.com/IPZFX8Etjp
— Gaurav Pandhi (@GauravPandhi) October 4, 2017
So did Modi change RBI’s outlook of 6.7% to 7.7%? Did RBI then back-track and change the data to save Modi?
Firstly, we need to get the timelines right, RBI’s monetary policy briefing began in the afternoon. PM Modi spoke in the evening, much after the briefing was over. The particular statement in question was made by Modi at around 6.50 pm.
In the briefing, RBI lowered to 6.7 %, the economic growth projection for the entire financial year of 2017-18. PM Modi though made a different statement. If you see the first tweet quoted in this post, it is clear that PM Modi had said that RBI has predicted 7.7% growth in the coming quarters. Video can be seen here:
So firstly, there is a fundamental difference in the RBI Governor’s statement, which related to the full financial year, and PM Modi’s quote, which talked about upcoming quarters.
So now we come to the second question, did RBI actually predict 7.7% growth for coming quarters? Or did Modi make this figure up as claimed by media-persons and politicians? The answer lies in the RBI’s Monetary Policy Report, which was released shortly after RBI’s briefing, relevant portion is highlighted below:
Very clearly, RBI did predict 7.7% growth for Q4 of FY 2017-18, which basically is an upcoming quarter. So PM Modi’s figure is not baseless as claimed by some.
Now, the question again comes: Did RBI later add this to their outlook to save PM Modi from embarrassment? The answer to this also lies in the time-stamps of the following tweets:
— BTVI Live (@BTVI) October 4, 2017
#MonetaryPolicy | Real gross value added growth seen at 7.7% for January-March; Real gross value added growth seen at 7.4% for FY19
— CNBC-TV18 (@CNBCTV18Live) October 4, 2017
Business news channels had reported this figure of 7.7% as early as 2.40 pm yesterday, a good 3-4 hours before PM Modi’s speech. This without a doubt proves that this figure was in fact released to public much before hand, and Modi had used this figure in his speech.