New Delhi: In a bizarre logic, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Saturday cited the box office earnings of three movies on their day of release on October 2 to dismiss reports of economic slowdown in the country.
Addressing a press briefing in Mumbai, the Union Law and Justice Minister said the economy of the country is sound as three movies have collected a record earning of Rs 120 crore on October 2.
“On October 2, three movies were released. Film trade analyst Komal Nahta said that the day saw earnings of over Rs 120 crore, a record by three movies. The economy of the country is sound, that is why there is a return of Rs 120 crore in a day,” news agency ANI quoted Prasad as saying.
He also dubbed "wrong" an earlier report by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) that had reportedly pegged the unemployment rate at a 45-year high in 2017.
Days after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the economic slowdown is more pronounced this year in India and Brazil, Prasad said the measurement was incomplete. He alleged that some people were misleading others over the unemployment scenario.
The NSSO's periodic labour force survey (PLFS) had generated a lot of political heat, with the then Congress president Rahul Gandhi saying the Narendra Modi-led government had promised two crore jobs, but five years later a "leaked job creation report card" has revealed a "national disaster".
Prasad's comments came at a time when India has slipped by 10 positions in the world competitive index report. The government data on Friday also revealed that factory output shrunk by 1.1% in August, the poorest performance in seven years due to a sharp decline in production of capital goods and consumer durables.
Prasad on Saturday said, "I have given you 10 parameters where the economy is performing well, but not a single one is reflected in the (NSSO) report. Hence, I call it a wrong report."
Prasad also sought to dispel the perception that the economy is on the decline, saying, "Electronic manufacturing, information and technology sector, Mudra loan, commerce services are performing very well. We never said we will give government jobs to everyone."
Opposition hits out at Prasad
Reacting to Prasad's comments, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh took a dig at him for linking the economy's health with box office collection of three Bollywood films and said even China measures its economy on parameters like power, credit and freight.
"Li Keqiang, China's PM inspired the Keqiang index to measure health of economy with the indicators: rail freight, power consumption & bank credit. For our very own IT Minister @rsprasad daily film trade turnover is better. Pra-sad index indeed," Ramesh said in a tweet.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the BJP government lets no opportunity slip to mock the misery of the people.
"This BJP government lets no opportunity slip to mock at the misery of the people. First they create an economic crisis by mismanaging things, then instead of taking remedial measures, continue to be in denial. Lakhs of workers have lost jobs in just the auto and textile sectors. Investment and savings levels are at an abysmal low, unemployment is at its highest in five decades and even biscuit sales are down. No amount of denials, tamashas and fudging of data can hide this truth," Yechury said in a tweet.
Earlier, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had blamed millennials for the slump in car sales in the country.
“The automobile industry is now affected by BS-6 and the mindsets of millennials, who now prefer to have Ola or Uber rather than committing to buying an automobile,” she had said.
(With inputs from PTI)