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

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Good and Bad Statistics

There has been a public debate on the quality of offi cial statistics being produced by the Indian statistical system. The debate was initiated by persons holding high positions in the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister and claimed that the existing survey mechanisms were archaic and not adapted for rapid changes, and thus grossly underestimated India’s progress. It also made an assessment that India’s offi cial statistics are excellent on the administrative side and mediocre on censuses and surveys. This article examines the basis on which the above statements were made and proves its fallacy.

Official statisticians are primarily responsible for meeting the data needs of governments around the world for development planning, policy formulation, monitoring, impact assessment and other allied activities on an objective basis. Ensuring the recognition of statistics produced by them as “good” has often been a subject of agony. This group of statisticians, who contri­bute significantly to the development process of the country, are therefore distinguished from other categories of statisticians in this article.

The specific characteristics of good statistics generally include relevance, timeliness, adequacy, and unbiasedness apart from its consistency with the prevailing public perception about the subject of study. The ongoing public debate on the statistical system and the views expressed by those in high positions and former members of the statistical system are therefore of significant importance in shaping the future of the Indian statistical system. The Indian Express has already published a series of articles on the subject, which include one by the chairman of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM), two by one of its members and two by former chairpersons of the National Statistical Commission (NSC) (Mohanan and Kundu 2023a). Yet another paper on a related topic is by Mohanan and Kundu (2023b), published in EPW.

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Updated On : 18th Sep, 2023
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