JNU professor quits govt panel on data citing ‘situation’ in university
Eminent economist and JNU professor CP Chandrasekhar on Monday said he had withdrawn from the newly constituted 28-member Standing Committee on Statistics (SCES), chaired by former chief statistician Pranob Sen, citing the situation in the university.
The committee was constituted last month to improve the quality of data amid criticism of the government over political interferences and is scheduled to meet on Tuesday.
“I regret to inform you that because of the situation in JNU, where I stay, I will be unable to attend tomorrow’s meeting.
“Further, I feel that under the current conditions, this committee is unlikely to be able to restore the credibility of the statistical system, which has been undermined in the recent past,”
Chandrasekhar wrote in an email to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) and the members of the committee.
Violence broke out at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) here on Sunday night as a mob of masked men, armed with sticks, attacked students and teachers and damaged property on the campus, prompting the administration to call in police.
Many sustained injuries and were admitted to the AIIMS Trauma Centre here. They were discharged on Monday. JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) president Aishe Ghosh suffered a head injury.
Chandrasekhar, an eminent economist, however, added that he wished to record his appreciation of the sustained efforts of a large number of colleagues within the statistical system, whom he had greatly valued working with in the past, to build a robust and credible statistical base.
“It is unfortunate that political pressures have reduced their autonomy now and efforts to consolidate a well-designed system are being subverted. In these circumstances, I will not be able to serve on this committee,” he wrote in the email.
Last year in March, expressing concerns over “political interference” in influencing statistical data in India, as many as 108 economists and social scientists had called for restoration of “institutional independence” and integrity to statistical organisations.
Their statement had come in the backdrop of a controversy over a revision of the gross domestic product (GDP) numbers and withholding of employment data by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO).
In November also, the MOSPI had decided not to release the Consumer Expenditure Survey results of 2017-18, citing data quality issues.