CRITICAL EVALUATION OF CSO AND NSSO MERGER
31, May 2019
Prelims level : Governance Mains level : GS-II Governance, Social justice and IR
Why in News:
- Government has lately announced that National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) will be merged with Central Statistics Office (CSO) to create the National Statistics Office (NSO).
Background: / Present order of the government
- NSO would be headed by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) secretary and 3 director generals will assist him. All divisions will report to the secretory through Director Generals.
- The Data Processing Division (DPD) of the present NSSO would be renamed Data Quality Assurance Division (DQAD) and have the responsibility to bring out quality improvements in survey data.
- The Field Operation Division (FOD) of the present NSSO will be subordinate office of the MOSPI. There was no mention of the National Statistical Commission (NSC) in the order.
Problems related to data collection
- Recently, there have been controversies surrounding data collection and presentation by the government. Economists and investors are increasingly showing that they have little or no confidence in India’s official economic data.
- A study conducted by NSSO in the 12 months ending June 2017 found that as much as 36 percent of the companies in the MCA-21 database of companies used in India’s GDP calculations could not be traced or were wrongly classified.
- In the latest controversy, government was accused of holding on to the data provided by NSC, that showed that showed the unemployment rate had touched its highest level in 45 years.
- In January, 2 members of NSC resigned, because they felt that NSSO is delaying the release of job data due to government pressure. Some of the economists are of the view that government has overestimated the GDP growth. For example, government upwardly revised GDP growth for 2016/17 to 8.2 percent from 6.7 percent. Economists and investors are now voting with their feet by using alternative sources of data and in some cases creating their own benchmarks to measure the Indian economy.
Present structure for data collection
- Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) came into existence as an independent ministry in 1999 after the merger of the Department of Statistics and the Department of Programme Implementation. The Statistics Wing re-designated as National Statistics Office (NSO), consists of the Central Statistical Office (CSO) and the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO). Apart from the above wings, there is National Statistical Commission (NSC) created through a resolution of Government of India and one autonomous institute, viz., Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) declared as an institute of national importance by an Act of Parliament.
- The Central Statistics Office (CSO), an attached office of the Ministry, coordinates the statistical activities in the country and evolves statistical standards.
- Its activities include compilation of national accounts, index of industrial production, consumer price indices (urban/rural/combined) etc.
- NSSO was established in 1950 as an organisation outside government control. It was formed as a part of the Indian Statistical Institute, as an independent, non-bureaucratic, national level socio-economic data gathering organisation. In 1972, NSSO came under the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation. It is responsible for conduct of large- scale sample surveys, in diverse fields, on all India basis. Primary data is collected regularly through nationwide household surveys on various socio-economic subjects like health, education and Annual Survey of Industries (ASI).
- At present there is greater need to bring accountability and transparency in the process of development and governance, whereas government moves appear to promote greater centralisation and administrative convenience, particularly in the area of statistical information generation.