Mumbai: Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Saturday stoked a controversy by linking film collections with the state of the economy. Addressing a press conference in Mumbai, the minister claimed that a film trade analyst had said that three films on October 2 grossed nearly Rs 120 crore. This, the minister believed, showed that everything was fine with the economy.
Claiming that the fundamentals of the economy remain strong, the minister said, “I was also told that on October 2, which is observed as a national holidays, three Hindi movies garnered `120 crore. Unless the economy is strong, how could three movies do so much business in a single day.”
Vishwas Uttagi, a well-known activist, questioned the minister’s claim. “How can he make such a comment? It shows his poor knowledge of the economy. Cinema will never be a parameter to measure economic growth,” he said.
Mr Uttagi further warned that industrial growth was deteriorating at a rapid pace. He said that sectors like automobile, cement and real estate were facing huge losses due to a decline in consumer demand.
“We can’t say economy is growing till these sectors earn profit. If there is no recession, then why public sector companies like BSNL, BPCL and MTNL are being sold to private entities,” he added.
However, Abhay Pethe, senior economist of the Mumbai school of Economics and Public Policy, said that the minister’s statement would not cause any harm to the economy. “I think we will have to face economic slow down for a couple of quarters. The minister’s remarks can either help the market sentiment or will have no effect. But it will certainly not have a negative effect on the country’s economy,” he said.
Mr Prasad also refuted the NSSO report, which had stated unemployment rate at 45-year high in 2017. He claimed that the NSSO report was wrong. The report does not have all the sectors. “The report was deliberately published. The government cannot provide employment to everyone.”