National Statistical Office
31st May, 2019
Recently, government has cleared formation of an overarching body —National Statistical Office (NSO) — through the merger of the NSSO and CSO under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).
- The new NSO as an agency was envisaged firstly by Rangarajan Commission to implement and maintain statistical standards and coordinate statistical activities of Central and State agencies as laid down by the National Statistical Commission (NSC).
- This commission had also recommended setting up of the NSC, headed by a person with a Minister of State-level designation, to serve as a nodal and empowered body for all core statistical activities of the country.
- According to recent order, NSO will be formed with the merger of NSSO and CSO under MoSPI.
- This recent restructuring seems to be a reaction to the resignations tendered by the member and acting Chairman of the NSC earlier this year
- As per the recent order, there will be three Director Generals —DG (Statistics), DG (Coordination, Administration and Policy) and DG (National Sample Survey) — reporting to the Secretary (S&PI) as against DG (Economic Statistics), DG (Social Statistics) and DG (Surveys) earlier.
- The Field Operations Division (FOD) of the present NSSO will be a subordinate office of the MoSPI and all the other divisions of present CSO, NSSO and administrative wing will exist as divisions of MoSPI.
- The Ministry has also ordered constitution of a committee to recommend the operational level modifications required to give effect to this restructuring.
- The order states that the proposed NSO would be headed by Secretary (Statistics and Programme Implementation), but skips any mention of NSC, which has been the overseeing body for all the statistical work done in the country.
- It notified initiation of the setting up of the NSC along with proposing the single entity, NSO, as “the executive wing of the government for statistics” which would “act according to the policies and priorities as laid down by the NSC.”
- The resolution had proposed NSO with two wings, CSO and NSSO, while recent order states that the “statistics wing, comprising the NSO, with constituents as CSO and NSSO, to be an integral part of the main Ministry, with CSO and NSO to be merged into NSO”.
Aim of this step:
- This order aims to streamline and strengthen the present nodal functions of the ministry and “to bring in more synergy by integrating its administrative functions within the ministry.”
- This will help in meeting the requirement of the statistical system as a lack of control on these two bodies was one challenge presently.
- It will align India’s statistical system with other countries.
- A Data Quality Assurance Division has also been set up, replacing the Data Processing Division, which will have the responsibility to bring about improvements in survey and administrative databases. This division will be strengthened through “re-skilling and deployment of existing personnel”.
Drawbacks of this step:
- This step is being widely perceived as a dent on autonomy of Indian statistical system.
- The character of NSSO will change by merging it with CSO and will bring it out of NSC’s control. Earlier, NSSO was an attached office of MoSPI, which gave it a legally distinct identity from the ministry. NSC used to oversee all technical aspects of the statistical work—which survey needs to be done, when and how it needs to be done. With the merger of NSSO and CSO, the autonomy of NSSO will go away and the NSC’s control over NSSO will not be there.
It is headed by a Director General is responsible for conduct of large scale sample surveys in diverse fields on All India basis. Primarily data are collected through nation-wide household surveys on various socio-economic subjects, Annual Survey of Industries (ASI), etc. Besides these surveys, NSSO collects data on rural and urban prices and plays a significant role in the improvement of crop statistics through supervision of the area enumeration and crop estimation surveys of the State agencies. It also maintains a frame of urban area units for use in sample surveys in urban areas.
Central Statistics Office (CSO): It coordinates the statistical activities in the country and evolves statistical standards.