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Weak statistics on agriculture and social sectors

Chairperson of National Statistical Commission says weak data collection at ground level has lead to creation of unreliable statistics.

india Updated: Apr 10, 2007 20:27 IST

Government’s statistical generation methodology received thumbs down from its top statistician, Professor SD Tandulkar, chairperson National Statistical Commission, said on Tuesday. Weak data collection at the ground level has lead to creation of unreliable statistics, he said.

The National Sample Survey Organisation and the Central Statistical Organisation provides data on social indicators as well as economic indicators to help the government in framing the policies. But, the top statistician has put a pertinent question to the government on the data regarding agriculture, heath and education.

At the conference of Central and State Statistical Organisations, Tandulkar spoke about ‘widespread weakness’ of data generation at the ground level leading to unreliable, inadequate and inaccurate statistics. "Such statistics undermine very usefulness for policy framing. Quality of data at primary level leaves a lot to be desired," he said.

Quoting Rangarajan Commission over poor quality of data collection at the primary level, he gave two reasons for this - low priority on data generation and public servants not serious about data collection. "This is self-defeating as good data can leads to sound policy," he said, while indicating at possible political interference in data collection.

From the internal note circulated by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, it appears that data collection in agriculture is extremely poor. On gross state domestic product estimates, no data is available on bye-products of agriculture and livestock, index of agriculture production, expenditure on new construction and wholesale price index.

Data on horticulture is not reliable and authentic in absence of proper validation system. We also don’t have data on market arrivals, prices and exports of agricultural products. Such data can help in issuing advance warning about impending crises leading to price rise, the document states.

With regard to savings, India’s growing private sector is excluded from data collection. Similarly, employment figures for the private sector are not collected. On pivotal social indicator of health and education, there is no data available on children fully immunised, pre-natal mortality and out of school children in gender classification.

GK Vasan, minister for programme implementation, urged the statisticians to evolve standardised product to generate comparable data considering that private sector was contributing two-third of the total investment in the country. He also announced that a World Bank assisted study on Indian Statistical for strengthening Directorates of Economics and Statistics all over the country has been launched.