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

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Do Not Undermine the National Statistical System

Rather than discrediting official statistics, the focus should be on a radical rehaul of the statistical agencies.

The recent debate about the quality of the government data has highlighted the varied perceptions on the strength and weakness of the national statistical system. However, to get a proper perspective, it is necessary to understand how the controversies over the quality of the data have panned out in recent years. What is surprising is that despite the recurring quibbles over the quality of official data, there have still been no substantial government interventions to make amends and sort out the issues. Consequently, the complaints about the quality of official data have ratcheted up with many experts not only challenging its veracity but even questioning the need for sample surveys, which is one of the edifices of the national statistical system.

The current wave of disputes over the quality of official statistics started soon after the slowdown in the economy in the latter half of the last decade. During this period, some ill-advised decisions, like the demonetisation of the rupee and the poorly designed goods and services tax, contributed to the woes and added to the confusion. However, these occasional grumbles about the falling standards of the official data were rather low-key and subdued. Then the situation suddenly worsened and quickly reached a flashpoint when the National Statistical Commission released the back series of the gross domestic product data. The disputes of the methodologies used for estimating the back series numbers soon resulted in the retraction of the data.

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Updated On : 19th Aug, 2023
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