Two independent members of the National Statistical Commission, PC Mohanan and JV Meenakshi, have resigned over a disagreement with the government on certain issues, an official said Tuesday.
Mohanan was also the acting chairperson. With the two members quitting, the NSC now has only two members — Chief Statistician Pravin Srivastava and NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant.
“I have resigned from NSC. We thought that the commission is not very effective nowadays and we also thought that we are not able to discharge the commission’s responsibility,” Mohanan told PTI.
“We have resigned from the NSC. Over the months, we have been feeling that we were not been taken seriously and being sidelined by the government. Recent decisions of the NSC were not being implemented,” Mohanan was quoted as saying by media reports.
Both members tendered their resignation on January 28, 2019, an official said.
The NSC, under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), is to have seven members, as per its website. Already, three posts were vacant. It is the top advisory body on statistical matters.
The tenure of Mohanan and Meenakshi was to end in June 2020. They joined as members in June 2017.
Reportedly, these two members are said to have resigned over a disagreement with the government on some issues, the official said.
One issue pertains to the government withholding the release of the results of NSSO’s quinquennial survey, for the year 2017-18 even though the commission approved the report.
This gains significance in the wake of the government being criticised for a scarcity of jobs in the country.
Former Finance Minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday targeted the government in a series of tweets saying, “May the NSC rest in peace until it is re-born again”.
“One more venerable institution died on 29 January 2019 owing to malicious negligence by the government,” he tweeted.
“We mourn the death of the National Statistical Commission and remember with gratitude its valiant fight to release untainted GDP data and employment data,” he added.
In November last year, the NITI Aayog had come under fire for announcing the revised GDP data of the UPA years.
NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar and Chief Statistician Srivastava had announced the back-series data by the government.
The government lowered the country’s economic growth rate during the previous Congress-led UPA regime, shaving off over one percentage point from the only year when India posted double-digit GDP growth post liberalisation and from each of the three years with 9-plus per cent expansion.
Recalibrating data of past years using 2011-12 as the base year instead of 2004-05, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) estimated that India’s GDP grew by 8.5 per cent in the financial year 2010-11 (April 2010 to March 2011) and not at 10.3 per cent as previously estimated.
Back then, Chidambaram had wondered if the National Statistical Commission has been disbanded, which had calculated the earlier numbers.