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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Economist Surjit Bhalla calls out economist Jean Dreze’s biased narrative of Bharat’s social indicators

The West has for long suffered from a jaundiced and prejudiced view of Bharat with most Western activists and their Bharatiya counterparts suffering from what we may call the Slumdog millionaire syndrome.

So-called Western activists and journalists always lookout for ways to put down Bharat. Their obsession with showing Bharat as a poor, communal country where the minorities are forever suffering is overwhelming and this has only increased ever since the BJP and PM Modi-led government has come to power at the centre not once but twice and that too as a single majority party.

However, their world-view is now being challenged which has put them on the backfoot. Recently, Shri Surjit Bhalla countered Jean Dreze, a Belgian born economist who resides in Bharat. While Dreze attempted to insinuate that Bharat is indeed fairing badly on child welfare and other fronts and the Bhalla has not provided proofs to counter his (Dreze’s) claims of Bangladesh being better than Bharat, the latter has replied to the former’s original article showing how it is Dreze’s ideology has clouded his judgement and facts have been conveniently overlooked by him.


Bhalla has not only countered Dreze but also the likes of Abhishek Anand, Vikas Dimble, and Arvind Subramanian for their alarmist and ideologically biased writings. Bhalla writes how Dreze and others have selectively used data or at times used false data to showcase Bharat as performing worse than its neighbouring countries as also countries from the African continent.

This is what Bhalla says after presenting a comparative study “none of the data presented above shows India’s performance to have worsened post-2015. In other words, the pessimistic conclusion of “many” (or some) of a deterioration is false. Further, according to a very large number of NFHS indicators, welfare improved big-time between 2015 and 2019”.

His contention is that not only are these so-called experts nit-picking on data but also being selective. Close to 100 indicators have shown improvement and less than five indicators have shown stagnation not worsening or reversal. Yet, these analysts are presenting a doomsday picture only due to their ideological differences.

Bhalla concludes by saying “the intelligentsia, both domestic and international, got the Modi election, and his re-election, horribly wrong. As I have argued earlier one consistent explanation for this mis-reading is that the old elite has not come to grips with the reality that there is a change in leadership on issues relating to politics, economics, culture, and society”.

The real story is not that Bharat has suffered any reversal in these social parameters but the elitist attitude that the intelligentsia, in other words Lutyens cabal, suffers from. For them Modi will always be the quintessential outsider. However, their hatred for a Hindu Bharat lies at the core of this hatred.

Bharatiya experts joining their international colleagues in putting down Bharat hardly comes as a surprise considering that they are either deracinated brown sahibs or owe their allegiance to the previous Sonia-led Congress regime or both. The result of ideology taking precedence is witnessed in the analysis of these experts.

Furthermore, it must be remembered that the data released is merely for Phase 1 which is based on 131 parameters while the rest of the survey would be conducted on 400 parameters. As Hindupost had pointed out earlier, the Phase 1 results are a cause to celebrate because they indicate an improvement in the status of women as also improved wellness index.

The citizens have been able to improve the health and quality of their lives by taking advantage of the various schemes rolled out by the central government. Reports indicate that the benefits derived from central schemes such as the Ujjwala Yojna and the Swacch Bharat Mission have percolated down to the ground helping common people derive the benefits and improve their standard of living as well as the quality of health.

The survey has also highlighted the fact that women are leading better lives and are more empowered than they were in 2015-16. The number of women holding and using a savings bank account has also significantly risen. The survey also brought out the fact that women facing domestic violence or sexual violence before the age of 18 has declined among the surveyed 18-25 years olds.

Economists like Dreze want us to ignore the improvements only because they harbour a deep-seated hatred for anything Hindu and Modi. The West has turned Bharat into some sort of social experiment laboratory where they want to dump all such ideas that have no takers in the West and hold Bharat as a mental slave to failed Western ideas.

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