White Paper on Economy: Assessment


White Paper on Economy: Assessment

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented a “white paper” on the Indian economy in Parliament Thursday. The document compares the 10-year record of economic governance under the Congress-led UPA governments (between 2004-05 and 2013-14) with the 10-year record of the BJP-led NDA governments (between 2014-15 and 2023-24).

In that sense,  writes Udit Misra (Deputy Editor, The Indian Express) “what was presented in Parliament is not exactly a white paper, because it is a comparison between the record of two governments on a variety of economic parameters….”



There are four stated objectives.

One, it seeks to inform everyone “of the nature and extent of governance, economic and fiscal crises that were bequeathed” to the NDA government when it assumed office in 2014.

Two, it informs about “the policies and measures that (NDA) government took to restore the health of the economy” since 2014.

Three, it “hopes to generate a wider, more informed debate on the paramountcy of national interest and fiscal responsibility in matters of governance over political expediency.”

Four, and it quotes Prime Minister’s speech on last year’s Independence Day, “to commit ourselves to national development, with new inspirations, new consciousness, new resolutions, as the country opens up immense possibilities and opportunities.”


Claims in the white paper

Misra identifies  some of the most important claims in the white paper.

The UPA Government inherited a healthy economy ready for more reforms, but it  abandoned economic reforms. In a quest to maintain high economic growth by any means after the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, UPA severely undermined the macroeconomic foundations.

The White Paper  claims how things have improved under the NDA. It uses data from the International Monetary Fund to show how “average headline Inflation has been lower in the NDA decade”. Or how many of the schemes — such as construction of toilets or opening of bank accounts — achieved higher results during the NDA decade.


Overtly political

In short, Misra states the framing of the Paper “couldn’t have been more overtly political…..From bad loans to high inflation, a slew of corruption cases to policy paralysis, the paper’s political imperative is clear: to draw the battle-lines in the run-up to the campaign for 2024. Its tone echoes Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sharp attack on the Congress in his Parliament…

“It’s not a surprise, therefore, that the paper skips references to what the UPA has often prided itself on: GDP growth in its first term at over 8.8 per CENT during 2004-05 to 2008-09 as per compound annual growth rate (CAGR) based on the old 2004-05 base year.”

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