Politics
Piyush Goyal issued a clarification but it contained no apology to Newton.
PTI

The BJP government seems to have found itself on the backfoot while responding to queries about the economic slowdown in India. On Thursday, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal’s remark grabbed headlines. Speaking at the Board of Trade Meeting in New Delhi, the minister urged the group of exporters to look at what is needed to achieve a trillion dollar of exports to boost the entire economy. However, while doing so, Goyal asked them not to “get into maths.” 

“Don't get into the calculations that you see on television, that oh, if you are looking at a Rs 5 trillion economy, the country will have to grow at 12%, and today it is growing at 6-7%…don't get into those maths. Maths have never helped Einstein discover gravity. If he had only gone by structured formulae and past knowledge, I don’t think there would have been any innovation in this world,” Piyush Goyal said. 

Within minutes, a short clip of his speech went viral on social media, with many poking fun at the minister for his Einstein gaffe, pointing out that it was Isaac Newton who discovered gravity.   

Piyush Goyal then issued a statement clarifying his remark, stating that his comment was misinterpreted and that there was a “mischievous and baseless narrative” being presented out of context. 

“I was making a comment about encouraging Indian industry and Indian businesses to aspire for a one trillion dollar export target within the next 5 years and to encourage enthuse the exporter community. The comment that I made had a certain context…. I would like to share the people the exact context which I made my comment, and I quote, I said, "Let's work together collectively with new ideas, with a new spirit of engagement and with new ideas believing nothing is impossible and together we can achieve one trillion dollar target. I said don't get into calculation, don't get into maths. Those maths have not helped Einstein discover gravity,” the minister said, speaking to ANI.

"After this I said that if he had gone only by structured formula and what was past knowledge, I don't think there would have been any innovation in this world. I think this operative line is not being correctly projected, I think this is an effort to make the people confident, give them the spirit of positivity and in that spirit of positivity, I think if we live in the past, we will never be able to make changes, the youth will never be able to achieve any ambitious goals," he added.

However, several social media users pointed out that the minister had still not realised that he had made a factual error.

With GDP growth being the lowest in six years, and falling auto, FMCG sales pointing towards an economic slowdown, the government has been trying its best to downplay the situation. The government’s stance has either been that ‘all is well’ or that slowdown is a part of the growth process.

Two days ago, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s response to the slowdown in the automobile industry had gone viral as well.  Speaking at a press conference in Chennai, Sitharaman said that the slowdown is due to the mindset of millennials who take cab aggregators like Ola and Uber and don’t want to commit to EMIs.

“This sector (automobile) in particular, has been affected by several things such as the BS-VI movement, registration fee matter…and the mindset of millennials. Some studies show that millennials prefer not to commit to an EMI and instead prefer having Ola or Uber or taking the metro. So, a whole lot of factors are influencing it,” she said, in response to a question from the media. 

The Finance Minister was addressing the media on the achievements of 100 days of Modi 2.0 when she was asked about the current slowdown that the automobile industry is facing. The automobile sector in the country is facing the biggest slowdown in sales in nearly two decades, with sales continuously falling for the past nine quarters. 

Nirmala Sitharaman was also asked about the state of the economy – India saw the lowest GDP growth of 5% in six years in Q1. This is down from a GDP growth of 8.2% in the first quarter of the previous financial year. However, according to her, dips and raises in GDP growth happen as part of growth.