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National Statistical Commission (NSC) Bill 2019

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    13th Feb, 2020

Recently, in the draft National Statistical Commission (NSC) Bill 2019, government proposed a law to reposition NSC as the nodal body for all core statistical activities of the country.


Recently, in the draft National Statistical Commission (NSC) Bill 2019, government proposed a law to reposition NSC as the nodal body for all core statistical activities of the country.


  • Facing criticism over the credibility and independence of India’s official statistics, the government has through the draft National Statistical Commission (NSC) Bill 2019 proposed a statutory ‘National Statistical Commission’.
    • The new bill proposes to set up a full- time NSC, a permanent secretariat, dedicated funds and powers to supervise core statistical products.
  • NSC Bill 2019 envisages financial autonomy for the commission through an independent ‘National Statistical Fund’, but it would be bound by directions that the Centre will give time from time.
    • The fund will include resources received by NSC through government grants, fees and charges.
  • History: The draft bill draws on the 2011 report of a committee headed by N.R. MadhavaMenon.
    • The Menon committee had first recommended the setting up of an audit and assessment wing under NSC, to be headed by a “Chief Statistical Auditor".
    • The draft bill also retains the regulatory powers over core statistics that the Menon committee had envisaged.
    • India is a follower of the UN Statistical Commission led systemssince 1948.

National Statistical Commission

  • The Government of India through a resolution dated 1st June, 2005 set up the NSC.
  • Setting up of the NSC followed Cabinet’s decision to accept recommendations of the Rangarajan Commission, which reviewed the Indian Statistical System in 2001.
  • NSC was constituted with effect from 12th July 2006 with a mandate to evolve policies, priorities and standards in statistical matters.
  • NSC has four Members besides a Chairperson, each having specialization and experience in specified statistical fields.
  • NSC is the apex advisory body on statistical matters, but its suggestions are not binding on the government.

Need for a revised NSC

  • The current NSC lacks statutory authority. In the absence of any legislative framework, NSC faced challenges in implementing its recommendations.
  • The quality of India’s official statistics and its reputation globally has suffered a steep decline.
  • Every other data release (or suppression) isaccompanied by controversy.
    • For example, release of the NSS consumption report was withheld by the government, on account of data quality issues.
  • The current statistical system lacks the ability to process the large volumes of data that are being generated even within public agencies.
    • Coupled with lack of incentives for research, this impedes innovation in the system.

Proposed statutory NSC

  • Constitution: According to the draft bill, NSC will consist of nine members. These include:
    • The Chairperson
    • Five full time member
    • Deputy Governor, RBI
    • Chief Statistician of India (CSI), appointed by central government.
    • Chief Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance.
  • Functions: NSC will advise the central and state governments, courts and tribunals on matters relating to government statistics.
    • It would conduct periodical review of all aspects of official statistical system at various levels.
    • Will help evolve national policies, legislative measures, and laying standards for statistical concepts and methodologies.
    • It will maintain government statistics data for public distribution.
    • Ensure strong coordination through close linkage between budget and statistical programming agencies in order to create robust rationalized data.
  • Suomotu action: It can take matters suomotu, but the Bill encourages government agencies to proactively bring issues pertaining to the national statistical system for discussion in NSC.
  • Inquiries, offences and penalties: The NSC has the power to warn, caution or censure a government agency if:
    • It does not comply with the standards of statistical ethics, or
    • Any person engaged in government statistics commits professional misconduct, makes a false or misleading statement or material omission in any information furnished to the NSC.
  • Statistical audit: The draft Bill establishes the National Statistical Audit and Assessment Organization within the NSC.
    • It will conduct periodic statistical audit.
    • It will be headed by the Chief Statistical Auditor.

Significance of the Bill

  • Structured collection of data: There was a need for the structured collection of data for many government programme interventions in order to help policy-makers to solve policy-related issues.
  • Autonomy: The revised composition of NSC aims to reinforce its independence and align it with the vision and broad contours of national policies and priorities.
    • All statistical products, including the GDP series, would be independently audited.
  • Credible Data: There is dire need for the availability of credible robust data in the public domain, so as to gain the trust of the people by preventing spread of fake unreliable data.
    • Through proposed NSC government aims to meet this need.
    • Strengths and weaknesses of the raw data used would come out in open.


  • Will not empower the National Statistical Commission:It is being argued that the bill doesn’t give NSC the autonomy it was meant to have.In the latest draft bill, the executive is part of the body.
    • It should have been an independent body accountable to Parliament and not to any minister or bureaucrat.
    • By giving the statutory backing, there are apprehensions that NSC will lose its independence.
  • Open to mis-interpretation: The science of data collection, i.e, the way data is collected and processedwill remain same, but people will interpret it in their own way.
    • There are concerns related to quality, correctness, misreporting/misinvoicing and verifiability of data.

Way Forward

  • This is the first step in restoring credibility of the Indian statistical system.
  • Autonomy must be complemented with competence.
  • There should be more use of upcoming technology like big data analysis, artificial intelligence, etc.

Verifying, please be patient.

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