Modi govt’s data war: Economists & accountants are fighting for political power like rivals

The recent public intervention by a group of economists over data published under the Narendra Modi government and a rejoinder to them by a bigger group of chartered accountants makes it appear as if public policy is a numbers game. And as if economics and accountancy are two rival ideologies contending for political power. Both these impressions are wrong, dangerous for public policy and corrosive for democracy. Here’s why.

At a time when India needs greater expertise in public policy, the oversimplified “economists vs chartered accountants” framing seems to suggest that the two disciplines are substitutes, and in doing so, devalues the role of any expertise in public policy.

Just as it would be very unwise to approach an economist to help you with corporate structuring or tax planning, it would be wrong to rely on chartered accountants for recommendations on monetary policy, welfare schemes or public finance.

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