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

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Recent Shenanigans in Indian Statistics

The instances of data suppression and leaks, in recent times, inadvertently reaffirm the integrity and professionalism of the official statisticians, but categorically indicate towards ministerial obtrusion in data dissemination.

In a brief span of about one year, the standing of Indian official statistics in international circles has plummeted from its high pedestal. Today, the credibility of the statistical system, as a whole, lies in tatters. The entire sequence of events has been most unedifying. The purpose of this article is to describe the sequence of events, not as a chronological exposition, but to highlight the government’s role in this process and the avoidable pratfalls committed by the statistical system itself.

It all began with a subcommittee of the National Statistical Commission (NSC) putting out a report on the back series of the gross domestic product (GDP) estimates using the 2011–12 base year in October 2018,1 which was inadvertently placed on the website of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).2 This series showed that the average growth in the period 2004 to 2012 was actually slightly higher than what it had been estimated earlier. The Congress party, which had been in power during this period, claimed that this was a vindication of its policies, and of the comparative non-performance of the Narendra Modi government. The report was promptly deleted by MoSPI from its own website, giving rise to a suspicion that the data had been “pulled.” Charges of data suppression by the government started since then.

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Updated On : 2nd Feb, 2020

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