A Revamped Statistical System – Tool for Good Governance
The role of Statistics in formulation, monitoring and evaluation of developmental policies needs no emphasis. The Statistics is also required for improving transparency and accountability in the implementation of policies through better understanding and control on delivery of public services. To cater these requirements, a robust statistical system needs to be in place for collection, validation, compilation and dissemination of data. The roots of statistical system in India can be traced in Kautilya’s Arthsastrha and Abul Fazal’s Ain-i-Akbari. During the British era, the Indian statistical system started getting the shape and Prof P. C. Mahalanobis ‘father of Indian Statistical System’ laid the foundation of modern statistical system. The contribution made by Prof. P. V. Sukhatme particularly in the field of Agriculture Statistics is also worth mentioning.
Keeping the importance of statistics in view, the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MoSPI) was created in the year 1999 by bringing the Department of Statistics and Department of Programme Implementation under one umbrella. To oversee the entire gamut of official statistics, the National Statistical Commission (NSC) was set up in 2005.
At present, India has a laterally decentralized system of statistics over different Ministries at the Centre and a vertically decentralized system between the Centre and the States / Union Territories. The authority of collection of statistics on any subject generally vests in the organization that is responsible for that subject. My Ministry through Central Statistics Office (CSO) and National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), plays a pivotal role in streamlining of collection of statistics over activities under its direct control, while we also assist the other agencies wherever such assistance is required.
My ministry brings out various important statistical products such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and related aggregates, Index of Industrial Production (IIP), Consumer Price Index (CPI) and reports of nation-wide sample surveys conducted in collaboration with States/UTs which are of national importance and critical to the economy. These statistical products/ outcomes are consistent with the relevant international standards and released as per pre-determined calendar of releases. While all published reports are available for free download from the Ministry’s website, detailed data of surveys is made available at nominal charges to academics, researchers, etc. However, while doing so it is ensured that identity particulars of survey respondents are not shared, thereby honouring the principle of maintaining confidentiality of respondents.
A number of initiatives have been launched by my Ministry during the last four years to make significant improvements in the quality and timelines of various statistical products released by my Ministry.
The adoption of UN Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics by the present Government is a reiteration of its commitment to good governance. All the statistical agencies have been motivated to work in the spirit of these principles. The Ministry is in the process of evolving a National Policy on Official Statistics (NPOS) to give furtherance to these Principles. The objective of the Policy shall be to provide, within the decentralised structure of the system, reliable, timely and credible social and economic statistics, to assist decision-making within and outside the Government, stimulate research and promote informed debate relating to conditions affecting people’s life. The policy has been placed in public domain for suggestions of various stakeholders.
In order to align the statistical products of MoSPI in accordance with the Generic National Quality Assurance Framework of the United Nations Statistical Commission, the Ministry has notified National Quality Assurance Framework (NQAF) for Official Statistics on 6th April, 2018 for use and voluntary compliance by all officers dealing with statistical matters including administrative statistics. These guidelines are useful to producers of official statistics in designing any statistical collection or product and are also helpful to users in making informed decisions regarding the use of statistical products.
The Ministry has notified broad guidelines for use by official agencies for production and dissemination of various socio-economic indices on 25th April, 2018. These guidelines, which have been formulated on the basis of the recommendations of the National Statistical Commission, will streamline and further strengthen the system of official statistics to provide better service to the policy makers, researchers, businesses and the public at large. Short term indicators are used by policy makers within and outside the government very frequently. Specific guidelines have been issued to improve quality of compilation of these indicators. Use of corporate data is a mile stone in bringing administrative statistics into estimation of statistical products. Similar steps are being taken in respect of other data sources such as Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN).
The Collection of Statistics Act 2008 was enacted to facilitate collection of statistics on socio-economic aspects by the Central Ministries, Departments in the States/ UTs and by the Local Governments. However, the said Act was not applicable in Jammu & Kashmir. This legislative vacuum had impacted data collection in J&K. To address this, the Collection of Statistics (Amendment) Act, 2017 was enacted. Now, the Collection of Statistics Act extended the jurisdiction of the Act to the State of Jammu & Kashmir in respect of statistical subjects falling in the Union List and the Concurrent list as applicable to the State. The Amendment has strengthen data collection mechanism in the State of Jammu & Kashmir.
The NSSO of my Ministry conducts regular socio-economic surveys on various subjects across the country. This enables a better understanding of the social and economic well-being of the country. During last four years, surveys were conducted on ‘Domestic Tourism Expenditure and Household Consumption Expenditure on Services & Durable goods’, ‘Unincorporated Non-Agricultural Enterprises’ and ‘Enterprise focussed Survey of Services Sector’. Based on the experience and understanding acquired during the ‘Enterprise Focussed Survey on Services Sector’ carried out in 2016-17, the possibility of conducting an Annual Survey of Services Sector in line of Annual Survey of Industries is being explored. At present, the NSSO is undertaking surveys on Household Consumer Expenditure and Household Social Consumption on Education and Health. In second half of 2018, survey on two subjects, one on Disability and one on Drinking Water, Sanitation, Hygiene & Housing have been planned. To assess the conditions of farmers and villagers, a Situation Assessment Survey of Agricultural Households and a Debt & Investment Survey are proposed to be undertaken in 2019. The steps have also been taken to strengthen the data collection machinery of the NSSO in North East Region by opening new offices or upgrading existing offices in Itanagar, Aizwal, Imphal and Agartala.
One of the major initiatives taken by the Hon’ble Prime Minister after assuming the office was the Swachh Bharat Mission. NSSO conducted a rapid survey on Swachhta Status during May-June 2015 covering 3788 villages and 2907 urban blocks. The survey gave the baseline position of the situation on the availability and accessibility of toilets and solid waste and liquid waste management.
The data collected by NSSO on employment-unemployment in India is presently available at an interval of about 5 years. Considering the importance and the fact that the employment data is required more frequently for effected Policy interventions. We have launched the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) from April 2017. Now, the employment data for urban areas would be available every quarter, while that for rural areas on annual basis. This survey will also give data on distribution of workers by industry and occupation, as also on workers employed in informal sector, besides condition of employment of the workers. In this survey, we have replaced the traditional approach of using paper schedules for filling-in information at the field level by the Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) method. The data is directly being entered into Tablets from the field by the field workers using a specialised software developed by my Ministry in collaboration with the World Bank. By combining the tasks of data collection and data entry, this process will save substantial time. We intend to extend this technique to various other surveys of NSSO in due course of time.
My Ministry have also revised the measurement standards of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to make them better compliant with the United Nations System of National Accounts (SNA), 2008. Further, due to the advancement of the Budget session to 1st February, my Ministry has revised the Advance Release Calendar of Annual and Quarterly Estimates of GDP and policy of revision of Annual & Quarterly Estimates of GDP and related Macro-economic Aggregates to make available the estimates before the presentation of Budget.
To reflect the structural changes taking place in the industrial sector more accurately, the base year of Index of Industrial Production (IIP) has been revised to 2011-12. The new series of IIP with base 2011-12 was released in May 2017. The methodology has been changed in the new series to make the indices more robust and representative. We are also planning a web portal for collecting data from the respondent units. On operationalization, this will considerably reduce the time lag in release of the monthly index from the current 42 days.
My Ministry has also revised the Base Year of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) from 2010 to 2012. The revised series was launched in January 2015. The Reserve Bank of India uses Consumer Price Index as a key measure of inflation for formulating the Monetary Policy of India. Ministry has already initiated steps to further revise the base years of GDP, IIP and CPI to accommodate and factor the changes that take place in the economic scenario of the country. The new base year for GDP and IIP will be 2017-18, for CPI, it will be 2018.
To ensure standardisation of procedures, National Accounts Division of CSO and Survey Design & Research Division of NSSO have been certified ISO-9001:2008 compliant for quality of performance.
The Ministry has also been making all efforts towards e-governance. A more user friendly website of the Ministry has been designed and developed as per the Guidelines for Indian Government Websites to facilitate the users. Bharatkosh, e-receipt portal gateway, is being used by Indian users for dissemination of Unit level data of NSS, ASI and Economic Census. The process of online payment by non-Indians for supply of data has been initiated. A web-based Survey Data Catalogue/ Micro Data Archive to disseminate NSS Survey, ASI and Economic Census Data is being created.
My Ministry is the nodal agency for devising framework for monitoring Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). During 2018-19, the Ministry intends to prepare National Report on baseline data to monitor the status of progress for goals and targets under SDGs.
The present Government believes in cooperative federalism. The Support for Statistical Strengthening scheme is an example of cooperative federalism and has been successful. So far 14 States/UTs have participated in the scheme. In these States/UTs, there have been marked improvements in the statistical systems. The scheme has helped the States/UTs to compile State/District level indicators such as State/District Domestic Product, State IIP, etc. The conferences like Conference of Central and State Statistical Organisations (COCSSO) has facilitated Central and States/UTs to sort out various statistical issues.
The Programme Implementation Wing of my Ministry deals with implementation of Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), monitoring of Central Government’s projects costing more than Rs. 150 crore and the Twenty Point Programme (TPP).
My Ministry has been responsible for the policy formulation, release of funds and prescribing monitoring mechanism of MPLADS. A new Integrated MPLADS Portal has been developed for use of all stakeholders, namely, Hon’ble Members of Parliament, State Nodal Authorities, District Authorities and Citizens. This Portal is an attempt towards ensuring transparency and making Citizens aware of the implementation of the Scheme. The MPLADS Portal also provides an opportunity to the Citizens for suggesting the developmental works in their areas to the Hon’ble Members of Parliament. To give a boost to completion of works undertaken under MPLADS, particularly old pending projects, officers from my Ministry are visiting the States to review the progress with senior officers of State Governments, including the Chief Secretaries. To imbibe systemic improvements in the design and implementation of the Scheme and to ensure optimum utilization of Government Funds, the Guidelines on MPLADS have been modified with changing requirements as well as on advice / feedback received from the stakeholders, including members of public, Hon’ble Members of Parliament, Comptroller and Auditor General of India (C&AG), etc.
Our Government is committed to the welfare of the less privileged. It has been made mandatory for the durable assets created under MPLADS to be friendly to persons with disability, wherever feasible. Retrofitting in existing durable assets created under MPLADS to make them friendly to persons with disability has also been permitted. All moveable assets specifically permissible under Guidelines on MPLADS such as school buses, ambulances, etc. procured with MPLADS funds must be friendly to persons with disability.
My Ministry also monitors the ongoing Central Sector Infrastructure Projects costing Rs. 150 crore and above on time and cost overruns, through its Online Computerised Monitoring System (OCMS) on the basis of information provided by the project implementing agencies. The OCMS serves as a reliable MIS tool for review of projects by the Administrative Ministries and Cabinet Secretariat, as well as the PMO through its PRAGATI meetings. The existing OCMS is being upgraded to make it more user friendly. A number of other steps have been taken to ensure timely completion of projects. During last four years, the number of projects under monitoring has increased from 710 to 1304. The impact of monitoring of such on-going projects have resulted in the reduction of cost overrun with respect to original cost from 19.4% in March, 2014 to 13.36% in February, 2018 and reduction in the time overrun with respect to original schedule from 29.44% to 20.09% during the same period.
We are also exploring developing a framework for bringing out National Factsheet of the Indian Economy with 100 indicators, on a quarterly basis using data provided by various source Ministries/ Departments through a dynamic user-friendly Dashboard and 13 indicators on annual basis.
The Ministry has started to release information on employment in the formal sector on a monthly basis using inputs from EPFO, ESIC and NPS. Steps have been initiated to bring out district level data/estimates in respect of different statistical products. This will facilitate effective monitoring in respect of 115 aspirational districts in the light of additional parameters over and above the indicators identified by NITI Aayog. An ICT based National Data Warehouse on Official Statistics (NDWOS) is being established which will provide a high-end solution for analytical interpretation of statistical data for various Ministries/State Governments to provide one step platform for Official Statistics. In order to devise innovative solutions for various statistical activities, Ministry has participated in the Grand Finale of Smart India Hackathon (SIH) -2018 held at B V Bhoomaraddi College Engineering and Technology, Hubballi, Karnataka held on 30-31 March, 2018. The digital solutions devised by the teams of students are being considered by MoSPI for their adoption.