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India’s Poor Will Not Be Wished Away

While the publication of India’s first consumption figures in over a decade has generated much excitement, the official data appear to have been chosen to align with the government’s preferred narrative. In reality, poverty remains deeply entrenched in India and appears to have increased significantly.

PRINCETON – The late, sharp-witted economist Michael Mussa, my first boss at the International Monetary Fund, once told me that every statistic must pass the “smell test.” I recalled this sage advice recently when Indian authorities published the first driblets of a consumption survey in over a decade. The numbers stink.