New Delhi, Aug 19 : Former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Sunday said that back series calculation of GDP proved that UPA I and II governments led by the Congress (2004-2014) delivered the highest decadal growth of 8.13 per cent since independence.

He said that there was a determined effort by the present BJP-led government to run down the record of the Manmohan Singh government through distortions.

The senior Congress leader said that the Modi government, in its fifth year in power, can't match the average growth rate of UPA-I, but hoped that it could catch up with the average growth rate of the UPA-II regime.

"For the sake of the country, we wish the government well in its fifth year," he said at a press briefing here.

He said that the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inherited an economy that was on the upswing.

"Unfortunately, after the first two years, the government stumbled and the momentum was lost. The main reasons were demonetisation, flawed implementation of Goods and Services Tax and tax terrorism," he added.

Chidambaram said: "The back series data is now available. The numbers prove the dictum that truth cannot be suppressed forever, and that the truth has a way of emerging amid a torrent of lies and distortions."

"Since this government came to power in May 2014, there has been a determined effort to run down the record of two UPA governments under Dr Manmohan Singh from 2004 to 2014," he added.

Quoting figures from Ministry of Statistics' data, Chidambaram said that the Indian economy's growth under NDA-I (A.B. Vajpayee) government was 5.68 per cent, it was 8.36 per cent during UPA-I, 7.68 per cent in UPA-II and 7.33 per cent growth in NDA-II.

"A lot of confusion was sown and the Modi government added to the confusion by changing the base year from 2004-05 to 2011-12," the Congress leader added.

Chidambaram said: "The Congress had repeatedly pointed out that when the base year was changed, the government should follow a healthy international practice and revise the numbers for the previous years too.

"We had demanded that the back series data of Gross Value Added and GDP should be calculated and released so that meaningful comparisons can be made," he added.

He said that UPA-I and UPA-II delivered the highest decadal growth (8.13 per cent at factor cost) since independence.

"It is also a matter of record that during this period, 140 million people were lifted out of poverty. The three best years were 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08. Dr Arvind Subramanian called them the 'boom years'," the former Minister said.

The former Minister said that the golden run would have continued but for the global financial crisis in September 2008.

"When the UPA government demitted office, economic growth had recovered to 6.39 per cent (at market prices) in 2013-14. Besides, the fiscal deficit had been reduced to 4.48 per cent and the current account deficit had been contained at 1.7 per cent."

Chidambaram said there were other reasons why the economy stumbled during Modi government, including stagnation in investment.

"The peak Gross Fixed Capital Formation as per cent of GDP was 34.3 per cent in 2011-12. Even in 2013-14 it was 31.3 per cent. However, in the last three years, it has remained constant at 28.5 per cent. At that level of investment (GFCF), it is not possible to achieve higher growth rates.

"Yet another reason is sluggish credit growth. In 2013-14, it was 14.0 per cent. The average of four years under the Modi government is 8.27 per cent."

Chidambaram said the Congress was a passionate advocate of high growth with equity and social justice. "All three have suffered under the Modi government," he said.

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Hong Kong, Oct 25: Amnesty International said Monday it would close its two offices in Hong Kong this year, becoming the latest non-governmental organization to cease its operations amid a crackdown on political dissent in the city.

The human rights group said its local office in Hong Kong would close this month while its regional office will close by the end of the year, with regional operations moved to other offices in the Asia-Pacific region.

This decision, made with a heavy heart, has been driven by Hong Kong's national security law, which has made it effectively impossible for human rights organizations in Hong Kong to work freely and without fear of serious reprisals from the government, Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, chair of Amnesty's board, said in a statement.

Hong Kong implemented a sweeping national security law in 2020 following months of massive anti-government protests. The law outlaws secession, subversion of state power, terrorism and foreign collusion to intervene in the city's affairs. More than 120 people, many of them supporters of the city's democracy movement, have been arrested under the law.

The majority of the city's prominent pro-democracy activists are behind bars for taking part in unauthorized assemblies, and dozens of political organizations and trade unions have ceased operations out of concern for their members' personal safety under the security law.

Bais said the recent targeting of local human rights and trade union groups signaled authorities were intensifying their campaign to rid the city of dissenting voices. It is increasingly difficult for us to keep operating in such an unstable environment, she said.

Critics in Hong Kong say the national security law is an erosion of freedoms, such as those of expression and assembly, that were promised the city for 50 years when the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997.