Friday, November 08, 2013

Fresh note on data manipulation suggests Gujarat's annual farm growth in 1998-2013 was merely 0.82%!

Modi at agro-summit in September 2013
By Rajiv Shah
Fresh facts have come to light suggesting that the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for agriculture and allied sectors in Gujarat during 1998-99 to 2012-13 has been 0.82 per cent, and not “around 10 per cent”, as claimed by the state government. A top note, prepared by a senior state bureaucrat who retired as additional chief secretary, Gujarat government, has said in a note that the analysis is based on taking 1998-99 as the base year for calculating CARG. This was contrary to the “wrongful” practice of the Gujarat government to calculate CARG by taking 2000-01, a drought year, as the base year. The note, prepared by CJ Jose, says, even if the CARG is taken by making 2001-02 as the base year, when Narendra Modi came to power, the CARG till 2012-13 comes to 2.93 per cent!
Suggesting that manipulating statistics appears normal with the Gujarat government, Jose says, “A slightly better CAGR would be thrown up if the comparison of 2012-13 is made with the worst ever year in recent history I,e, 2000-01” -- even in that case, CAGR would 3.21 per cent. The note, which is in possession of, says that this type of manipulation first began after the Gujarat government found, on basis of an internal analysis of agricultural growth between 2005-06 and 2009-10, which suggested that CARG during the period was “negative”, minus (– ) 0.03 per cent.
The note says, “Alarmed by such depressing situation, the state government fudged the growth figures for the next two years. Initially, the growth in 2010-11 compared to the previous year was projected as 17 per cent but later revised to 25.14 per cent. To support such a claim numbers relating to area under cultivation, production and yield were manipulated.” It added, “In June 2011, the Gujarat chief minister informed the planning commission that during 2010-11, the area under cultivation in the state had gone up to 145 lakh hectares (ha)”, while actually it has never been more than 122 hectares.
Calling this as a “patent lie”, the note insists, “It was claimed that in 2011-12 the production of major crop groups such as food grains, oil seeds and cotton had increased, respectively by 79.64 per cent, 70.80 per cent and 32.75 per cent, along with substantial yield improvement.” In spite of such manipulation of the production figures, the note said, “the CAGR at the end of 2011-12, compared to 2005-06 stood at 4.82 per cent.” The note is in wide circulation among senior bureaucrats of Gujarat Sachivalaya, and has already led to an unprecedented flutter, as many of them know what happened.
All this happened against the backdrop of the fact that, during the pre-2005-06 period, i.e. between 1998-99 and 2004-05, the CAGR was negative for two of the three major crop groups, food grains and oil seeds. It was found to be negative even in case the base year was 2001-02. It could be turned into the positive only in case cotton was taken into account. Hence, a further internal calculation was made, and a decision was reached to make 2000-01 as the base year. It was agreed, only when this was done the agricultural production could be shown as positive for all the three crop groups.
The note regrets that, among others, well-known economist Prof Ravindra Dholakia in his paper “Has Agriculture in Gujrat Shifted to High Growth Path” provided credence to making 2000-01 as the base year. By using this method, the senior faculty of the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad declared that Gujarat agriculture had “achieved the average annual growth of 9.5 per cent in the ten years ending in 2009-10.” This was nothing but the result of a “perverse choice of the base year (2000-01)”, the note emphasised.
Arguing why 2000-01 cannot be made the base year, the note said, during 2000-01 the value of the output of agriculture and animal husbandry in Gujarat stood at Rs 14,092 crore, which was lower than Rs 15,658 crore of 1981-82, one of the worst years. The 2000-01 value of the agriculture output was 39 per cent below that of 1998-99. While making the analysis, the state government, supported by Prof Dholakia “deliberately overlooked” the fact that the decline in the 2000-01 agricultural output was “due to a severe and catastrophic drought, for the second year in succession” and “there was a drought of lesser intensity in 1999-2000 too.” And though there was a recovery in 2001-02, “the output (at Rs 18,859 crore) was “still below the output of 1994-95 at Rs 19,973 crore.”
Hence, the note believes, a need has been felt for a “reasonable and statistically sensible” comparison, by making the choice of a normal year as base year, which was nearest to the commencement of the Narendra Modi regime. This could be no other than 1998-99, or the previous year, which was also a normal year for agriculture. With 2012-13 being another drought year, the “tall claim” of “around 10 per cent agricultural growth” is all set to fall apart, as internal sources of the Gujarat government suggest, in fact, even if calculated at 2000-01 as the base year, the note says, the CARG of agricultural output would now be around five per cent.
It is against this backdrop that, says the note, that it is necessary to understand why the Gujarat government has been “reluctant to release their version of the agricultural output for the year 2012-13”, adding, “The obvious reason is that the figure would simply puncture the tall claims the state government has been feeding all these years.“ Referring to internal documents, the note highlights, this is the reason that the figures are not being released though “the fourth advanced estimate of area and production of agricultural crops of 2012-13 (of September/October) has been calculated.”
Quoting latest data, made available from the directorate of agriculture, Gujarat government, the note says, “The fourth advance estimates of the area under cultivation and production of agricultural crops for the year 2012-13 show a much more depressing situation compared to what was projected in the second advance9d estimate, part of which was incorporated in the Socio-Economic Review of the Gujarat government 2012-13.“ They suggest that the net percentage decline in overall agricultural output for the year 2012-13,due to the sectoral decline, would be much higher, if one takes into account the weightage given to each crop group in the calculation of the value of annual agricultural output -- food grains (36.7 per cent),oilseeds (34.10 per cent), cotton (16.7 per cent) and others( 12.5 per cent). The following table shows where things stood:
2011-12 Area
2011-12 Production
2012-13 Area
2012-13 Production
Oil seeds
Area in lakh hectares
Production in lakh tonnes (cotton in lakh bales)
Coming to the value of output (based on which gross domestic product growth is calculated) of agriculture and allied activities for the year 2011-12, it was reported in the Socio-Economic Review of 2012-13 to be Rs 45,085 crore at 2004-05 prices, says the note. “This translates to Rs 37,984 crore at 1999-2000 prices”, the note points out, adding, “With a fall in production of 31.79 per cent in 2012-13, compared to 2011-12, the value of the output of agriculture and allied sectors would come to Rs 30,752 crore at 2004-05 prices and Rs 25,908 crore at 1999-2000 prices.” 
In fact, the note points out that even this seems to be based on “an overestimation of the production and gross cropped area figures to the tune of about 21 per cent, particularly after 2009-10”. It underlines, “If this is factored in, the value of the 2012-13 output of agriculture and allied sector in Gujarat would be proportionately less at Rs 20,467 crore in 1999-2000 price levels. However, it appears that the numbers in the fourth advance estimate for 2012-13 are not yet manipulated and therefore no correction is required for the year 2012-13.”
If one looks at the area under cultivation (gross cropped area) reported in the recently prepared (September-October 2013) fourth advanced estimate for the year 2012-13, of the directorate of agriculture of Gujarat, the gross cropped area in 2012-13 has been put at 96.80 lakh hectares. This consists of the following seasonal aggregates. The following table, given in the note, provides the breakup:
Gross cropped area in 2012-13
Area in lakh hectares
Kharif (autumn)
Rabi  (winter)
“The implication of the above is that the gross cropped area of the state at 96.80 lakh hectares in 2012-13 is only 66.75 per cent of the area that the Modi government claimed to be the area under cultivation in the address prepared for the Governor of Gujarat for delivery during the budget session of the Gujarat assembly in February 2013. As is well known, Modi had also pulled a fast one on the chairman of the national planning commission when he claimed that the cultivated area in Gujarat had gone up to 145 lakh hectares from 100 odd lakh hectares earlier”, the note says.
It further says, “It is also easy to understand how the state planning department and the higher ups in the agriculture department manipulate numbers to claim achievements that have no basis in reality or what are not supported by the figures that are collected by the directorate of agriculture.” Referring to two of the bureaucrats who headed the department by name, Avinash Kumar and Varun Maira, he says they have worked with “such devotion and loyalty” that they have “fabricated growth figures to suit the requirement of the chief minister by playing around with some aggregates in the Socio-Economic Reviews, while the actual situation remained buried in documents which are not released to the public.”
“The reported area under irrigated crops during the Rabi season of 2012-13 at 23.79 lakh hectares also is much lower than the reported figures for the year 2010-11 and 2011-12, which were respectively 30 and 34.58 lakh hectares each”, the note says, adding, this suggests that “the claim that measures in constructing check dams and such others have increased water table and irrigation potential just does not hold water. Equally important, it is evident that the area and production figures have been regularly manipulated as explained elsewhere.”
Finally, the note comments, shocking Sachivalaya babus, that “it will be hard to find another Indian state with such dismal performance in agriculture as found in Gujarat under Modi. It need not be over-emphasized that this correction in the figures relating to the agriculture output would impact also the GSDP growth figures. The most damning thing is that there is no more any integrity in the figures coming out of the state government of Gujarat.”
It adds, “The recent severe drought that has impacted area under cultivation, production and yield in a way exposes the lie of those who asserted that the small growth of agriculture in Gujarat during the early years of the first decade of the new millennium was for reasons other than bountiful nature and monsoons that did.”

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