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Meet the “Alt Math”: GDP numbers and The Telegraph’s war on subtraction

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

Certain Harvard and Cambridge economists and their derivatives in India have been facing a stormy time ever since India’s headline GDP number for the last quarter was discovered to be a solid 7%. By the way, I found this compilation on Twitter of various headlines from “news” organizations. Without looking at the labels on top, see if you can spot which headline came from NDTV:


This is a problem, since the world’s most reputed economist had already projected a fall of 2% in India’s GDP growth to a rousing reception by the chattering classes.


Retrofitting reality to conform to the oracle’s predictions can be a bit of a sweat. You know, there was a time when this country would struggle to reach a growth rate of 2%. I wonder sometimes what Dr. Singh would have to say about that.



But then, I didn’t go to Cambridge University. Not even to the Lennox Cook School.

Nevertheless, the release of GDP numbers gave an impetus to the retrofitting industry in the Indian media. Here is some of that good old Orwellian awesomeness from The Telegraph.



Who wrote this story? A “special correspondent” of course. Well, he or she must be really really special. Let’s read the underlined sentence again: The estimate was cut to 28,30,760 crore from 28,52,339 crore, thus making the estimate go 1,75,554 crore lower.

Wait. What does the calculator say?


Hmmm… 2852339 – 2830760 is merely 21,579 instead of the 1,75,554 that I should be getting. Clearly, I am in need of a different calculator to process the “Alt Math” of the left. As you can see, Modi as PM has been a disaster for arithmetic.


Theek hai!

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

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