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Have we grown that fast? Making sense of India's new GDP numbers


Is there something else that we ought to take into account, such as the new formula for calculating India’s GDP — a change that was made from last year?(Illustration: Abhimanyu Sinha)

有没有其他一些什么应该让我们考虑在内的,比如说用于印度GDP计算的新公式——与去年所制作相比的一大改变?(插图:Abhimanyu Sinha)

First, here’s a bit about the new formula. Before it was changed last year, the goods produced or traded that make up one part of India’s GDP (the other parts are made up of farm output and services) were measured by aggregating factory output — by counting the number of units produced and traded by companies.

首先,这里有一些与新公式有关的。在去年发生改变之前,生产出的或是进行贸易了的货物占了印度GDP 的一部分(另一部分是由农场产出和服务组成),是用工厂总产量来进行测量的——通过计算公司的产出单位数量和已进行贸易了的单位数量。

Under the new formula, it is the value and not the number of units of factory output that is aggregated to get a measure of the goods produced.


Does that make a difference? It does.


A simple (and perhaps, simplistic) example is of a car factory. If it produces and sells the same number of cars this year as it did last year but improves the per unit value of the car (think upgrades or higher value models) then under the new formula, it would contribute to a higher growth rate, but because there is no increase in the actual number of units produced, it may not have grown at all under the old formula.


The new formula relies on more exhaustive data. Under a new ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) guideline, all companies (500,000 already have and more are signing up) have to upload balance sheet data on the MCA’s records and this captures the value added by all activities of manufacturing, trading and even marketing.


All of this means the new method for computing GDP, which takes 2011-12 (when GDP grew 6.7%) as the base year, has bumped up India’s estimates of growth. In 2012-13, the new formula estimates growth at 5.1% (under the old one, it was 4.5%); in 2013-14, it is 6.9% (the old estimate was 4.7%); and, as we all know by the high-decibel crowing that came in its wake, in 2014-15, it was 7.3%.

所有这一切都意味着计算GDP的新方法(2011 - 2012(这期间的GDP增长了6.7%)年间就是用此方法计算的第一年),使得印度的增长估计值快速增长。在2012 - 2013年间,新公式下的估计增长率为5.1%(在旧公式下是4.5%);在2013 – 2014年间, 新公式下的估计增长率为6.9%(旧公式下是4.7%);还有,正如我们所知的在其觉醒之后的高调啼叫,在2014 – 2015年间,这个数据是7.3%。

There’s obviously no ‘old data’ for 2014-15 but estimates suggest that the old method may have pegged growth at 6.3-6.8%. All of this may mean something else too.

显然2014 – 2015年间没有的旧公式下的数据,但据估计,旧公式下的增长率可能是6.3 - -6.8%。所有这一切也可能意味着别的东西。

Last week, FM Arun Jaitley told US investors that India could attain double-digit growth soon. He wasn’t kidding. Because what’s 10% now could’ve been just 8% before!


Unfortunately, economic growth is not all about how it is measured. And the first couple of months of 2015-16 haven’t exactly been promising: domestic car sales grew 18% in April but only 7.7% in May; exports and imports — both an index of economic activity — slumped in May; and despite last year’s 7.3% growth, most indicators show that consumer spending and investment continues to be sluggish.


Another measure of economic development also seems dismal: jobs.


Between December 2013 and December 2014, India added an impressive 421,000 jobs but that figure is a mere drop if you consider that every year there are 15 million Indians who join the ranks of those who are seeking jobs.


If 10 is to really be the new 8, many things have to change — not merely a formula.