Economic development performance of BJP and Congress: a data-driven investigation

India is preparing for its sixteenth General Elections in 2014. Like the last fifteen general elections in its history, this round will again be the largest exercise in democracy anywhere in the world. As the bureaucracy prepares itself for election logistics, India’s two major political parties are preparing themselves for their next big showdown. BJP has just completed the process of choosing its leader for the election, and it has nominated Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its candidate for Prime Minsiter.

As both parties begin to formulate and test their arguments with voters, one area that has emerged as an important issue is economic development. BJP and Congress both make several claims about the economic development record of both parties. As can be expected of rival parties in a democracy, each party’s claims not only contradict the other’s, but are sometimes at odds with its own prior claims. In this situation, it is hard to assess the claims of either party.

The best way to evaluate the relative performance of both parties is to go to the raw data from various public sources and analyze them. Over the next several posts, I shall present a comparative analysis of the economic development performance of BJP and Congress. The timeline for this investigation begins in 1991, when India began its liberalization program. I will present this analysis at two levels:

  • National level, comparing the performance of the six-year NDA government with that of the now nine-year UPA government, and comparing the performance of India to that of a group of peer nations; and
  • State level, comparing the performance of Gujarat to its peers and the performance of Gujarat under Narendra Modi to its performance under his predecessors.

Economic development is a broad, abstract concept, and there are dozens of possible ways of measuring it. The questions that are most critical to answer when comparing the performance of two governments are: How fast did the economy grow under them? How did that growth translate into overall quality of life? How equitable was that growth? These three questions are answered by focusing on three major indicators:

  • Changes in income, expressed in terms of real (i.e. inflation-adjusted) GDP growth and growth of real GDP per capita,
  • Changes in Human Development Index (HDI), and
  • Changes in economic inequality

Over the next few posts, I will show the relative performance on these three metrics of Gujarat and India compared to their peers under BJP and Congress governments since 1991. Stay tuned!

This series has now been posted.  The findings are summarized here: Congress has stronger economic development record than Narendra Modi’s BJP. You can read the detailed posts with supporting evidence here:

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