if social media interactions are anything to go by, a large part of the population has simply not been blessed with a sense of humour. And while we are not certain which category Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs, V Muraleedharan would fall into, Shashi Tharoor has ventured a guess.

It began, as is often the wont for Twitter, with a meme. The Thiruvananthapuram MP shared a joke that showed India’s GDP decline corresponding to the length of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s beard. Graphic suggested that from 2018 onwards, as the PM’s beard grew longer, the quarterly GDP percentage began to drop. “This is what is meant by a “graphic illustration”!” he wrote in the caption.

But even as the post evoked the usual blend of outrage & laughing encouragement from netizens, many officials hit out at the Congress politician for taking a jibe at the Prime Minister.

“Get well soon Shashi Tharoor. I will put in a word at hospitals under Ayushman Bharat for you. Get Well Soon from your sickness,” responded Union minister V Muraleedharan.

Mr Tharoor was quick to respond, lamenting the Union Minister’s “lack of a sense of humour” that appeared to be uncurable “even under Ayushman Bharat”.

It has been a tough year for the Indian economy as the country battled the COVID-19 pandemic. With 2020 being a year marked with lockdowns & financial constrains, it is only now, after 2 consecutive quarters of contraction, that the Indian economy has finally entered an expansionary path. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 0.4 per cent in the October-December 2020 period compared with the same period a year back.

While quarterly GDP percentages are not the same as the GDP of India in any given year, there does appear to have been a bit of a decline in recent years, as per data from the World Bank. In 2014, the GDP grew by 7.41%, followed by 7.996% in 2015 and 8.256% in 2016. The GDP grew by 7.044% in 2017, and by 6.12% in 2018. It grew by 5.024% in 2019, and had grown by -23.9% in the first quarter of 2020 as the pandemic set in.


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