How Data from Parliamentary Constituencies Can Hold MPs More Accountable

The Discussion Map charts important debates from the pages of EPW.

In their 2019 paper, “Burden of Child Malnutrition in India,” Akshay Swaminathan et al analysed population data at the level of parliamentary constituencies (PCs). Using data from the fourth National Family Health Survey 2016, they presented a methodology that could enable researchers and policymakers to generate PC estimates from district-level data and prioritise which PCs need targeting. This would also increase the accountability of MPs for the well-being of their constituents. 

Srinivas Goli acknowledges that while Swaminathan et al’s approach to hold MPs accountable is novel, the reliability and validity of the estimates are questionable. Goli writes that the research suffers from “methodological errors and misleading claims” that raise concerns regarding the policy and practical use of the proposed methods.

Swaminathan et al respond to discuss the major concerns raised by Goli and further justify their methodologies to encourage the future application of their research. The authors explain that because data on key developmental indicators are not available at the PC level, they used available geographic information system shapefiles and nationally representative data to estimate the PC-level burden of child malnutrition.

 

A few other works that are broadly related to this discussion:

  1. On Research and Action, Jean Dreze, 2002
  2. On Methodology and Methods, N Jayaram, 2017
  3. Re-Estimating Malnourishment and Inequality among Children in North-east India, Hemkhothang Lhungdim and Moatula Ao, 2014
  4. The Scourge of Hunger and Malnutrition, EPW, 2019

 

Ed: To contribute to a more comprehensive discussion map, please share links to other relevant articles in the comments section or write to us at edit@epw.in with the subject line—"Governance and Data Collection"

 

Curated by Anandita Chandra [anandita@epw.in]

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