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

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Data in Peril?

The autonomy of the statistical institutions is a must to ensure the credibility of official data.


The resignations of two independent members of the National Statistical Commission (NSC) have, once again, brought to the fore the question of autonomy of public institutions in India. The NSC was created in 2006 not only to generate credible official statistics but also to see that such data is put in public domain. But, such a fundamental requirement, as the resigned members suggest, has not been met. The government has chosen not to publish the National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO) Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) report for July 2017–June 2018, disregarding its approval by the NSC in December 2018. The members who resigned had also expressed their concerns about the NITI Aayog for its lack of consultation with the NSC and for sidelining the pre-eminent statistical institution.

However, this was not the first instance in which the NITI Aayog has sought to undermine the effectiveness and autonomy of the NSC. The NITI Aayog and the Central Statistics Office (CSO) had released the new official data on backdated gross domestic product (GDP) series with 2011–12 as the base year, in November 2018, bypassing the NSC. It also sought to overturn the report of its subcommittee, to show better growth performance of the current government in comparison to the previous one. This was considerably different from the figures provided in the NSC report. This move had also drawn a lot of criticism from experts, who called out the NITI Aayog and the CSO for tinkering with official statistics.

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Updated On : 12th Feb, 2019
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