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All is not well in social statistics sector: Ansari


Patna: Vice President M Hamid Ansari today 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.

“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 opprobrium 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 2012-13 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 International media, Ansari said.

“Data was too thin to draw significant conclusions about the level of inequality in India,” the Vice President said quoting Piketty.

Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar attended the seminar organised on the occasion of silver jubilee celebrations of Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI).

UNICEF representative to India Louis Georges Arsenault, Vice Chancellor of Nalanda International University Gopa Sabharwal and Deputy Director of Bihar Programme of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Usha Kiran Tarigopula were also present.

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