ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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III: Modernisation Project – Centralisation Par Excellence!

Indian Statistical System at the Crossroads

The modernisation project was apparently the ultimate objective of the flurry of initiatives of the Department of Statistics (DoS). The paper in this part analyses the contents of the project and the philosophy, strategies and approach that shaped it, and brings out its serious implications for the Indian statistical system (ISS). The project is formulated with the short-term objective of meeting the requirements of Special Data Dissemination Standards (SDDS) of the IMF and for monitoring poverty. By design it does not address the problems and development of the ISS. Instead, it established the NSSs as an alternative system to ISS, and aims for a massive expansion of the NSSO and modernise its operations. The project covers only marginally the modernisation of other sub-systems, and where it does so it does not address the vital problem of collection of data and their quality. It requires the government of India to adopt measures that will centralise the statistical system of the country. The paper shows that the project, driven not by national needs but by international demands for data, and based on unjustified NSSO expansion, will lead to the neglect of ISS. The paper ends with broad suggestions for reformulation of the project, and a call to state governments to set their statistical house in order and to beware of the emerging tendencies to centralise the ISS.

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