Redesigning India's Ailing Data System - Editorial


The fresh series of GDP data, with 2011-2012 as base input, published in the year 2015 was not so welcoming among the analyst; the holding back of unemployment-employment data for a certain time period and the consumer expenditure information and data, yet to be released, had put the new figures of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) into troubled waters.

Data reporting dashboard on a laptop screen.
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Changing the long-standing position of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) under the Governing Council and bringing it under National Statistic Office catch attention and suspicion.

The existing accounting and analytical framework fail to accommodate important entities of the economy and its composite character of advancing economy constantly experiencing and undergoing technological and institutional transformation and frequent power play in the market economy.

Overview of Indian System of National Accounts

The data generated by the entire National statistics system is churned to extract a consistent illustration of the National Macro Economy, through the NAS framework.

Technology share chart
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The approximates of the National income and related combinations and accounts are obtained from statistics that illustrate basic data collected from different primary sources.

These varied primary sources of the data and information are produced as a by-product of the public administration's system (civil registration of birth and death, direct and indirect taxes, land records, etc.) coupled with information collected from activities such as censuses and national surveys carried out official agencies and institutions of the central and state governments.

Quality and Accuracy of National Accounts.

  1. Geographical or coverage of the area involved and most importantly the quality of primary data;
  2. The instruments, procedures, methods, and policies involved in the translation NAS framework.

GDP Estimate Figures and their Wide-Range Impact

GDP is the common blanket for all nationwide production activities, such as the production of goods, and services without any duplication.

Through the mechanism of value, it adds fruits, agriculture instruments & equipment, trade and transportation, telecommunication & storage, housing construction & real estate, banking & financial services, and government services.

A farmer takes a break from working in a rice paddy on the outskirts of Ambanpola, Sri Lanka, on January 15, 2022. Sri Lanka has cut back on imports of farm chemicals, cars, and even its staple spice turmeric as its foreign exchange reserves dwindle, hindering its ability to repay a mountain of debt as the South Asian island nation struggles to recover from the pandemic.
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The System of National Accounting (SNA) in nutshell can be defined as the administrative instrument devised to identify and measure the key parameters of nationwide production, total consumption, and accumulation or a gathering of finances to estimate the performance of the economy.

GDP heavily affects and influences all markets, also helpful in signaling the investment sentiments, movement of the funds across the market, and balance of payments.

The simple relation of “Input-Output” influences the types of production and ultimately resource allocation, consumer demand, and supply, affecting the prices, employment-unemployment statistics data & information, and people's standard of living influencing all walks of life.

MCA21 a Major Shift

The shift from the Establishment approach to the Enterprise approach is considered to be a major shift, i.e. Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) is replaced with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA21). This major transition gave rise to serious data issues and methodological problems.

March 21 _ Delhi, india.
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The sudden introduction of MCA21, constituted many issues, firstly without separating the unused enterprises, secondly Insufficient efforts on the mapping of ASI data & information, and finally the similar activities on service segment enterprises were a major blow.

Corrections got to be made are ...

  1. The data and information on GDP are initially estimated at the current price and then deflated for constant price for comparability of information over time.
  2. It is necessary to filter the price effect to regulate value for real volume for comparison over time and sectors.
  3. There is how of adjusting the price effect through an appropriate price level.
  4. The present series encountered serious problems with a price adjustment, specifically for the services sector contributing about 60% of GDP, within the absence of appropriate price indices for many service sectors.
  5. The deflators utilized in the new series couldn't effectively filter the price effect from the present value to reach a true volume estimate at a constant price.
  6. Price indices going into a lower and negative zone in 2014-17 disturbed the real growth.
  7. The growing inequality in society and accumulation of wealth in a few hands to the disadvantage of welfare must be arrested at the earliest.
  8. We need data to estimate competitiveness, inclusive growth, fourth-generation technological revolution deployment on the internet of things, biotechnology, automation and robotics-influencing employment and productivity, nature & environmental protection, overall sustainable development, and complete welfare.
  9. Hence GDP data must be linked with a number of other data for deeper insight.
  10. We need to re-engineer the prevailing system, creating an integrated system populated with refined and precise data.
  11. India is a vast and diversified country. There are irregularities and path dependence, which should be considered and accommodated while setting goals for development, reducing the regional ambiguities and imbalance.

The Present and the Future

  1. We need a replacement framework for the analysis of such an integrated system and evolutionary process.
  2. There is a concern about growing market potential, industrial automation, robotization, and other labor-replacing technologies influencing profitability, structural change, and general welfare.
  3. We need to seek out alternative fields to address the unemployed and jobs lost.
  4. We also got to know in more refined detail about market hierarchy and microstructure and optimality therein, the role of technology adoption and advanced research in a wide variety of fields, the ever-changing demand for human skills, and enterprise and organizing ability, which is all-composite or complex.
  5. The consensus macroeconomic framework of assessment symmetric income distribution, and doesn't get into the core of structural problems, because it focuses on a trend-cycle disintegration of GDP for growth and stability in market idiolect and a trickle-down effect for percolation of income.
  6. In order to inject efficiency and stability, we'd like to possess detailed segregated information on how: markets function such as market clear, prices are created or formed, risks build-up and their mitigation, institutions function and, in turn, influence the lifestyle of people from all varied walks of life.
  7. The alternative to being realistic for the real world must stand only on two pillars: the micro-behavior of Indian people, and therefore the composition or pattern of their mutual interactions.
  8. In the changed situation of availability of microdata, we'd like to create a solid framework to integrate the micro with the macro, while sustaining the distributional characteristics.


As official statistics may be a sugary decorated and public good, projecting data about the state of the current economy and success of governance, but it must be independent to avoid influence and be impartial always.

Data is that the new oil, the new valuable commodity within the modern connected economy in pursuit of socio-economic development.

The economics as of now, deeply entangled and rooted in data, constantly measuring given Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and impacting competitiveness, risks, opportunities, and welfare in a networked and integrated manner, traveling much beyond macroeconomics.

We have a commitment to supply these statistics as they are, completely transparently, following internationally accepted protocols, carefully selected and stitched together to suit local conditions, for multi-disciplinary analytics.

As these statistics showcase, the performance of the government, it is very important that its independence is maintained meticulously.

To pursue the highly motivated goal of a $5-trillion economy by 2024-25, harnessing the demographic dividend, we must start utilizing underused resources for demand creating an investment, which requires data to pursue policy right from a district and access performance for better efficiency including governance.