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

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Disastrous Decade for Data

In recent years, the Indian official data has been challenged for many reasons, most of them arising out of the perception that the government is reluctant to release unfavourable data. These doubts have been exacerbated by the controversy posed by the debate around Citizenship (Amendment) Act, National Population Register, and National Register of Citizens and the weakening of established institutions like the National Statistical Commission. The COVID-19 pandemic has further upset the data collection so that the first phase of the decennial population census and the proposed NPR exercise now stand postponed. Questions on credibility of official data and the pandemic-induced problems have come at a time when technology offers solutions to data collection, processing and dissemination. The initiatives launched by the government to improve the statistical system utilise these possibilities.

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.

Decentralised Statistical System

The Report of the National Statistical Commission is a most welcome effort which seriously proposes to stem the rot that has set in the field of Administrative Statistics that is the basis of most socio-economic statistics in India. It has wisely rejected the Modernisation Project of the Ministry of Statistics and the World Bank. It has outlined what amounts to an independent professional set-up at the highest level to lay down the policy in the field of the Central and State Statistical Systems. It has underlined the need for state governments to treat their administrative data reporting agencies as useful agencies for the purpose, since without this data base the government will be blind about both formulation and monitoring of policy. The missing and inadequately treated individual items should deserve the attention of the National Commission of Statistics (NCS), which should be expeditiously established by the government.

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