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Lessons from a Pandemic

Need for a Strong and Reliable Statistical System in India

The evolution and organisation of the Indian statistical system is reviewed with particular emphasis on social sector statistics. In the light of recent experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, some evident lacunae in the system of collecting, synchronising, and disseminating data from diverse sources are discussed. The critical need for better financing of the statistical agencies, facilitating homogeneous integration between different agencies, and promoting transparency, accountability, and autonomy of the statistical system are highlighted as key priorities.

 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues its ominous, uncertain journey worldwide, the need for accurate, regular information on its spread and containment has been felt by all. But most of us do not readily realise that uninterrupted flow of accurate, reliable information is not the default, but involves a careful, planned design.

Information is power. Information that flows from a structured system is equally powerful and useful; both for those who are expected to make use of the information—think decision-makers in government and researchers in the academia—as well as for those to whom such information pertains, like common citizens. Robust information systems are synonymous with better transparency, accountability, and effectiveness of public policy. They are also a natural characteristic of modern citizen societies and welfare states. Weak information systems either follow archaic models of coll­ecting, compiling and disseminating data, or lack critical qualities of credi­bility and legitimacy in the procedures followed; in some cases, both.

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Updated On : 16th Oct, 2020

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