Tracing the Contours of Official Economic Statistics in India
Publishing Year: 2021
Published by: IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute
Subject: Statistics and Development
Available as: E-Book
About the Book
The system of official economic statistics in India has undergone myriad changes since Independence. There have been various developments in its administrative structures and changing levels of focus on different economic sectors. The types of datasets available for these sectors have been ever-evolving and undergo dynamic changes owing to real-time measurement and analysis using ICT.
The Agricultural and Livestock Censuses capture data on the agricultural sector. For the Industries sector, Annual Survey of Industries and the Directorate of Industries in states are the two major sources of data. Since economic liberalisation in India, there has been an increased focus on the Services sector and developing a well-organised mechanism to cover it. This sector is covered by National Sample Surveys, Ministry of Corporate Affairs’ MCA-21 Database, GSTN and others. The unorganised and informal sectors of the economy also find coverage in NSS Rounds on Employment and Enterprises. The Census of India, the Economic Census, Price Indices and NSS Rounds on Consumption Expenditure, Enterprises and Employment, among others, are major sources of economic statistics as well. We also have new arrays of data for the formal sector in the form of EPFO, Direct Tax, Property Tax and others.
Using this sector-wise classification of Agriculture, Industries, and Services, and also including the unorganised and informal sectors, the paper explores India’s structure of economic statistics. While the paper draws attention to recent datasets and rounds of surveys, the focus is also on the evolution of the system of official economic statistics in India. The paper highlights issues with the credibility and utility of the available data, in light of a declining GDP growth which also gives rise to more serious questions on the reliability of the country’s data architecture and system of economic statistics. It also discusses structural changes such as those of the MoSPI and NSC.
The system of official economic statistics in India now faces the challenge of adapting to Information and Communication Technology. The paper thus emphasises the role of strengthening realtime and Management Information Systems’ data to enable evidence-based policymaking and planning and realise the vision of ‘New India’ and a US$ 5 trillion economy.
Arjun Kumar is the Director of IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi and Generation Alpha Data Center (GenAlphaDC). He is also a China-India Visiting Scholars (CIVS) Fellow at Ashoka University, Sonepat.
Anshula Mehta is a Senior Assistant Director and Deputy Editor at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi. She coordinates GenAlphaDC and is also a Secretarial Assistant for the Journal of Development Policy Review (JDPR), IMPRI’s flagship research journal.
Ritika Gupta is a Senior Assistant Director and Deputy Editor at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi. She coordinates Insights, a blog published by IMPRI, and is a Data Research Associate at GenAlphaDC, where she also manages the FieldLab initiative.
Simi Mehta is the CEO and Editorial Director of IMPRI.