ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Atmanirbharta in Statistics and the Thrust on ‘Make in India’

International agencies usually make country comparisons based on statistical indicators founded on globally accepted concepts and definitions. The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister has questioned the adoption of international standards in three key sectors and has suggested developing standards that produce statistical indicators in tune with the national narrative. This is unlikely to help the country’s statistical system. 

The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) (2023) has rec­ently published a working paper where the authors argue that the international agencies systematically underestimate our socio-economic progress through inappropriate use of indicators. This, according to them, then feeds into wider global indices and clouds the feedback on policy interventions. The article then attempts to find systematic flaws in estimates of international agencies, ran­ging from conceptual mistakes and inappropriate benchmarks to shoddy methodology in three key metrics—childhood stunting, female labour force participation, and life expectancy at birth. They argue that the domestic statistical apparatus needs to pay greater attention to the appropriateness of global standards and publish their own estimates proactively, somewhat akin to a “Make in India” strategy for official statistics. This is extremely important since these metrics are part of core national statistics that are also used to measure progress in the Sustainable Development Goals. The advantage noted by the aut­hors is that this will reduce the space for international agencies to mislead policymakers at the global and the national level, as also the concerned citizenry.

It goes without question that there are diversities among nations in all spheres—social, economic, political, cultural, and ethnographic. These make international comparisons based on a single global standard problematic. Added to this is the question of appropriate data to construct the indicators based on the international standards and the capacity and interest of countries to collect such data. The problems notwithstanding, it is imp­erative that certain standard indicators are developed to benchmark countries. The anguish felt when India figures lower down in international comparisons based on statistical indicators produced by national agencies, however, is understandable. The complaint coming from a high-level official body, however, must not appear something like blaming the tools for poor workmanship. We need to look at the arguments in the EAC-PM paper for each of the three matrices more closely.

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Updated On : 19th Jul, 2023
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