Economic Survey 2018 breaks stereotype, goes pink; evokes poets, Bollywood

29 January 2018, 10:19 PM
Economic Survey breaks stereotype, goes pink; evokes poets, Bollywood (Source: PIB)
Economic Survey breaks stereotype, goes pink; evokes poets, Bollywood (Source: PIB)

Breaking from past, the Economic Survey for 2017-18 was printed in pink colour as it waded into problem of gender bias prevalent in India and underscored the importance of gender issues to the economy.

The pre-Budget annual document detailing state of economy was in the past presented in multiple hues of blue, green and yellow but the Survey 2017-18 sported a pink cover “chosen as a symbol of support for the growing movement to end violence against women which spans continents”.

Indian parents continue to have children until they get the desired number of sons, it said observing that the adverse sex ratio of females to males has led to 63 million “missing” women.

The survey report’s author, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian said the document’s cover was deliberately kept in pink colour to show the government’s support to the movement ‘in favour of women and women’s empowerment’. The survey has a whole chapter on gender.

In his fourth Economic Survey, Subramanian evokes poet T S Eliot to warn against the danger of staleness in penning the document year after year. “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And the next year’s words await another voice,” he quotes Eliot.

From William Shakespeare to Rabindranath Tagore, and from John Keats to Keynes, most of the chapter of the Survey starts with famous quotes of either of noted poets, novelists, economists or noble laureates.

Be it Bollywood yesteryear actor Manoj Kumar’s song ‘mere desh ki dharti sona ugle, ugle heerey moti’ in a chapter on agriculture and climate change, to Sunny Deol’s famous ‘Tarikh par tarik, tarikh par tarikh’ dialogue to jumpstart the chapter on judicial delays—the survey is punctuated with doses of Indian cinema as well.

Quote from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland figured in the survey to suggest that India must continue in the high growth path to avoid falling into the slowdown trap.

“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere, you must run twice as fast as that,” goes the quote from popular children’s tale.

Tamil writer and poet Subramania Bharati is quoted in the chapter on gender bias as the Chief Economic Advisor in the Finance Ministry sought to highlight societal and economic challenges like son meta-preference and empowerment of women.

Also two-word hashtag ‘#Me Too’ that denotes sexual harassment and assault too finds a mention in the gender chapter.

Many Twitteratis, however, were not amused with the choice of the pink colour of the survey.

One Twitter user referred to the choice as “Pathetic, patriarchal, shallow symbolism”, while another said it “contributes to stereotyping”.

“They have got to be kidding us! They made the Economic Survey cover pink to symbolize women empowerment. What will be the colour of actualizing it?” a tweet by a user, Rachna Sinha, said. 

First Published: Monday, January 29, 2018 10:02 PM
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