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

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Re-engineering for Credibility

Remedies for India’s Ailing Statistical System

There has been a protracted belligerence over the new series of gross domestic product data denting the long-standing credibility of our statistical system. There is a need to not only come out of the present predicament, but also to find a way for enhancing credibility of official statistics. Such strategic actions for revamping the official statistical system, keeping in view the major challenges, are suggested.


The base year for national accounting is revised once a while to accommodate developments in methodology, structural changes in the economy, and the availability of fresh data. This change is guided by the Advisory Committee on National Accounts as an expert body, which has experts from both economics and statistics. The main focus for revision this time is related to the implementation of the recommendations of the System of National Accounts (SNA) 2008 for international comparability and for incorporating certain new sets of data on the corporate sector and unorganised sector that are currently available. As mentioned in the publication Changes in Methodology and Data Sources in the New Series of National Accounts: Base Year 2011–12 published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in 2015, there were 12 major recommendations for changing the compilation of the new series. These changes relate to the valuation of the gross value added (GVA) at basic prices and the gross domestic product (GDP) at market prices, sectorisation by institutional classification, expenditure on research and development (R&D), Financial Intermediation Services Indirectly Measured (FISIM), etc. SNA 2008 has many novelties and its implementation needed (re)visiting many new areas, including past data. The CSO should be complimented for enabling India to be one of the earliest implementers of SNA 2008.

The compilation of the GDP is a massive exercise involving collection and processing of data on value of output, input used, operating surplus, relevant prices, workforce, saving and investments, exports and imports, etc, which cover all aspects of the economy. It requires a carefully developed system to collect and collate these data following sound standards of measurement, classification and aggregation. India has had an established system for estimating GDP. To understand the methodology used and its soundness, the problem can be broadly bracketed under two categories—methodology and data. We can only depend on the data available in the public domain and the methodological note of the CSO to air our considered views. The data available in the public domain have already been dissected in the media and in research journals, particularly Economic & Political Weekly. Hence, my approach will be to pick up a few areas selectively as illustrations preparing the ground calling for a thorough re-engineering, revamping and reorganising of the system.

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Updated On : 3rd Jan, 2020
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