After the Indian government junked two reports this year citing data inaccuracy, its think tank Niti Aayog has taken it upon itself to map out a way to ensure data accuracy and legitimacy.
According to a report in ET, NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar has already held two meetings with the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) to prevent leakages and establish credibility and strong data collection system. Both parties are taking the issue seriously.
Niti Aayog, which is chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, believes that statistics is not a traditional method anymore, but is a big technology component and therefore, the mechanism needs to be made stronger. Niti Aayog also believes that the issue of data inaccuracy has become a big deal and it cannot turn a blind eye anymore, a government official told ET.
The source also assured that Niti Aayog realises the complications of storing, managing and collecting data, along with other factors like data governance — meaning who gets to access the data. According to sources, Niti Aayog might issue the new guidelines soon.
This comes at a time when even the MoSPI is also working on tactics to update the data collection mechanism. The ministry is planning to introduce checks for data collection and also increase the sample size of the survey to improve accuracy.
Moreover, recently a parliament panel has also suggested that the government should conduct regular recruitment and increase the use of technology to improve efficiency at the MoSPI. The panel emphasised that the ministry should not compromise on the quality of the statistical staff, especially the ones working in the field as the credibility of the whole process starts from there.
Why Is Niti Aayog Focusing On Data Accuracy?
Last month, the Modi-led government shelved the leaked draft of the Household Consumer Expenditure report of FY2017-18. The report showed a decline in spending in rural India in the financial year 2018.
Union minister Rao Inderjit Singh, in the parliament, said that the decrease in rural spending is a “misconception”, in fact, spending has increased in FY 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2018-19. He also noted that the report has neither been rejected or accepted.
Similarly, this year the government did the same with the Periodic Labour Force Survey report that showed the unemployment rate in India was on a rise, making up to 6.1% in FY18. Whereas the same statistics from FY12 shows that the unemployment rate had increased by 2.2%.