ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The True State of Development

A Quantum Leap in the Wrong Direction? edited by Rohit Azad, Shouvik Chakraborty, Srinivasan Ramani and Dipa Sinha, Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan, 2019; pp 315, ₹ 495.

In an editorial to commemorate 100 years of the Guardian newspaper in 1921, its editor C P Scott wrote that “comment is free, but facts are sacred.” It is the tragedy of the times that comment is no longer free, but increasingly policed through institutional and non-institutional means, while the objective validity of facts is being delegitimised by ruling governments. A Quantum Leap in the Wrong Direction? seeks to restore the sanctity of free comment and objective facts in public discourse, a vital endeavour in today’s political climate.

Every democratic government has the prerogative to highlight aspects of official data that present itself in the best possible light, as long as it allows the opposition to test the validity of its claims; this is essential for a healthy functioning of democracy. This necessitates that data is allowed to circulate freely in the public realm. The problem is that the current government has blocked or discontinued the dissemination of official data, be it the quinquennial surveys of the National Sample Survey Office, the Periodic Labour Force Surveys, or the parliamentary report on demonetisation. Where official data have been released, it has been criticised by academics for its untenable claims, such as the revised figures of gross domestic product (GDP) or the claim of formal sector employment generation using Provident Fund data. This is inimical to the exercise of democracy, and has brought to the fore the “public-good” character of data, as highlighted by P C Mohanan (2019).

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Updated On : 24th Apr, 2019
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