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15th April 2022 (6 Topics)

Data divide between state, citizens is bad for democracy

Data can improve people’s life in myriad ways, yet political factors thwart its dissemination and public usage. While this year’s Economic Survey focuses on improving the quality and quantity of data for better and quicker assessment of the state of the economy, it pays little attention to access to the data by citizens, ignoring the criticality of data for a healthy and informed public discourse on issues of policy relevance.

Government as custodian of data

  • Types of Data- Along with traditional instruments such as the Census, sample surveys and registers of various departments, the government is now armed with real time data.
  • Increasing Government Interventions- The effectiveness of state policies can be judged from the data produced by the statistical wings of the government, which have a reputation for being independent and credible. However, recent events have severely dented this perception. The government is increasingly intervening in the everyday functioning of data production for political convenience. 
  • Relying on self-reported data-Further, instead of relying on the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI), a systematically designed survey for estimation of industrial sector GDP, the government has started to depend on self-reported, unverified data submitted to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs since 2011, muddling the actual status of Indian industry.
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