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All is not well in social statistics sector: Ansari

Vice President M Hamid Ansari on Friday stressed the need for getting credible and complete data for better policy planning, as he noted that “all is not well” in the Indian social statistics sector.

All is not well in social statistics sector: Ansari
Vice President M Hamid Ansari


“Developing nations like India need socio-economic information about their population to design redistributive policies. Concerns have been expressed about efficiency and efficacy of public data collection and the gaps which exist in the Indian social statics,” Ansari said delivering a key note address here at an international seminar on social statistics. He said concerns have been raised about the quality of data being generated as also about duplication of the efforts to collect statistics across various government departments, inaccessibility of national data archives and infringement of privacy by government’s data collection machinery. 

“All is not well in the Indian social statistics sector,” the vice president added. He said criticism of public statistics sector, especially when it comes to measurement of crosscutting social issues such as gender disparity, inequality, poverty and growth, seems valid. 

“Our statistics have also attracted scorn on issues related to measurement of parameters related to the service sector, unorganised sector and unemployment figures,” Ansari said, adding it was not only undermining the credibility of Indian statistics globally but also hurting the analysis of some of the most important elements of the country’s economy.  He said the noted French economist Thomas Piketty has lamented the ‘huge gap’ in statistics in India exemplified by paucity of data on Income Tax and the reluctance of the government to release the caste census results. 

“Even after the government recently released official figures for income tax in 201213 which prompted a lively debate about the extent of tax evasion with commentators noting that there were very few returns at the highest end of income spectrum,” Piketty had told the media, Ansari said. “Data was too thin to draw significant conclusions about the level of inequality in India,” the vice president said quoting Piketty.

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