Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje's Claims Of India's Indicators: Few Right, Others Wrong, Ambiguous
Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje wrote a blog on mob violence in the Times of India on July 27, 2017, in which she made several claims. We fact-checked her claims and found some of them to be true and others ambiguous.
Claim 1: Over the last three years there has been no change to the number of deaths in Rajasthan (though both murders and mob violence incidents are lower in 2017 than in 2012) or communal mob violence deaths in India.
NOTE: *Till June 30, 2017
Fact: In 2012, Rajasthan registered 1,461 murder cases - average of 121 cases per month, and in 2017 (till June 30), it registered 691 cases - average of 115 per month.
So, if we go by average murders per month, Raje's claim of 2012 v/s 2017 is correct but based on six months data.
In 2016, Rajasthan registered 1,551 murders, an average of 129, higher than 2012.
Her other claim on communal mob violence cannot be verified as National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a division of the home ministry, does not record lynchings or mob violence separately.
Despite the increase in violence related to bovine issues, particularly over the last three years, the ministry of home affairs does not collect data on lynchings, according to this reply by the home ministry to the Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament) on July 25, 2017.
IndiaSpend has recorded 66 incidents of cow based violence in eight years. Created through a collection and content analysis of reports in the English media, the database shows that 97% (64 of 66) of such incidents were reported after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government came to power in May 2014.
More than half or 53% of the cow-related violence–35 of 66 cases–were from states governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) when the attacks were reported, revealed the analysis of violence recorded until July 27, 2017.
Claim 2: Roughly 22,500 people die of natural and unnatural causes in India every day
Fact: India's death rate was 7.1 per 1,000 people and a population of 1.21 billion - 23,541 deaths per day, according to Census 2011 data.
We used another data source, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) factbook, which pegs India's death rate at 7.3 and population at 1.266 billion as of July 2016. According to this data, 25,337 people die every day.
Therefore, Raje's claim is correct as she may have used different population figures.
Claim 3: Many Indian metrics have gotten better since 2014: life expectancy, literacy, childbirth deaths, inflation, cleanliness, economy formalisation, currency strength and violent deaths. Lower violence is a global phenomenon.
Her reference to 2014 indicates the start of the BJP government at the centre. Therefore, we checked her claims whether these indicators have improved under the BJP rule.
Life expectancy: India's life expectancy at birth was 67.9 years between 2010-14, according to data released in October 19, 2016, the latest available, by the Registrar General of India (RGI), custodian of census data.
Life expectancy at birth was 68.3 years in India; 66.9 years for men and 69.9 for women in 2015, according to the World Health Organization's Statistics Report 2016.
The figure has been increasing every year since 1970, year from which data is available. Between 1970-74, India's life expectancy was 49.7 years. Therefore, Raje's indirect claim that the improvement can be imputed to the BJP government is misleading.
Literacy: India's literacy rate was 74.04%; 82.14% for men and 65.46% for women, according to the Census 2011 data.
As many as 68.4% of women and 85.7% of men are literate, according to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16.
Though literacy rate has increased, Raje's claim is ambiguous as it has increased every decade as per data recorded by earlier censuses and National Family Health Survey (NFHS-1,2, 3 and 4.)
Childbirth deaths: India's infant mortality rate (IMR, deaths per 1,000 live births) reduced from 57 in 2005-06 to 41 in 2015-16, according to the National Family Health Survey-4 data, latest available. Therefore, Raje's claim is misleading as IMR has been decreasing ever since data has been recorded.
However, India fell short of the IMR target agreed to under the 2015 millennium development goals (MDGs) set in consultation with the United Nations. India did not achieved the IMR target of 30 that the government set for 2012.
Inflation: Raje's claim of inflation going down is correct as the consumer price inflation (CPI) has reduced from 11% in 2013 to 2.2% in 2017, Bloomberg reported on June 19, 2017.
The analysis found that India is benefiting from subdued inflation globally, especially in oil, the country's biggest import. Additionally, food prices have been a big reason for the decline. After averaging 11% between 2007 and 2013, food inflation has averaged 4.5% since the start of 2016.
Cleanliness: This is a vague claim as there is no exact indicator to measure cleanliness. However, in all likelihood, she is referring to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
From 2014 to 2017, household toilet availability has improved from 41.93% in 2014 to 63.98% in 2017. Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Kerala have achieved 100% open defecation-free (ODF) status.
As many as 51.6% households across the country did not use an improved sanitation facility – a system that separates human excreta from human contact–between January 2015 and December 2016, IndiaSpend reported on May 24, 2017.
The World Bank, which had promised a loan of $1.5 billion for Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin– the rural arm of the mission, has not released the first instalment which was due in July 2016 because India has not fulfilled the condition of conducting and announcing results of an independent verification survey, The Economic Times reported on January 10, 2017.
As many as 3.1 million (88%) household toilets have been built in urban areas, against a target of 3.5 million for 2017-18, according to data on the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban website.
Also, 115,786 (56%) community toilets have been built against a target of 204,000. Yet, only 36.8% wards in urban areas reported a proper liquid-waste disposal system for community and public toilets, according to the 2016 Swachhta Status Report, IndiaSpend reported on May 24, 2017.
Therefore, Raje's claim of improvement in cleanliness is ambiguous and vague.
Violent deaths: This is a vague term as violent deaths can be any deaths including accidents, murders, fire deaths, etc. However, as Raje's blog was in context of mob lynching, it can be assumed that she was referring to violent crimes leading to deaths.
The NCRB has a category "violent crimes" which include: murder, attempt to murder, culpable homicide not amounting to murder, attempt to commit culpable homicide, rape, attempt to commit rape, total kidnapping & abduction, dacoity, robbery, riots, arson and dowry deaths.
The number of registered violent crimes have increased every year, according to NCRB data. Therefore, Raje's claim is misleading.
Currency strength: On May 16, 2014, the day BJP won the Lok Sabha elections with a majority, $1 was equal to Rs 58.7825, according to historical currency trends by Bloomberg Markets. On the day of Raje's blog, July 27, 2017, $1 was Rs 64.1087, a decrease of 9.1%.
Though there have been fluctuations as trends show, rupee has weakened against the dollar overall during the three-year BJP rule . Therefore, Raje's claim of the rupee gaining strength is incorrect.
Economy formalisation: "The increasing formalisation of the economy, nudged by policy, can improve medium-term potential growth," said the macroeconomic framework statement released as part of the Union Budget for financial year 2017-18. Economic reforms undertaken by the government include demonetisation and introduction of the Goods & Service Tax (GST).
The GST would dramatically "formalise" the dominant informal sector that drives the bulk of the economy and open it up for credit access, Rashesh Shah, chairman, Edelweiss Group, wrote in Mint on June 5, 2017.
Therefore Raje's claim is vague as there is no official data to substantiate this claim, only anecdotal evidence.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said that there were 70 incidents of cow-related violence between 2010 and July 27, 2017, of which 68 were reported after May 2014 and 38 were in states governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party at the time of the attack. Upon reconciliation on December 8, 2017, we found that there were 66 incidents as of July 27, 2017, of which 64 were reported after May 2014 and 35 were in states governed by the BJP. We regret the error.
(Saha is an MA Gender and Development student at Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.)