Data is important for democracy


On Tuesday, the federal government knowledgeable Parliament, as soon as once more, that the 2021 census has been postponed until additional orders. The purpose for this unprecedented delay — the primary decadal census to be delayed since 1881 — is the pandemic. This is unacceptable. Practically all pandemic-related restrictions have been eliminated, and the federal government has been conducting actions corresponding to holding different surveys and elections, which, when it comes to nature of labor, should not completely different from what the census will entail.

The proven fact that the federal government has not even selected a timeline for the census means that it’s going to take years earlier than the brand new knowledge is out there to the federal government and impartial researchers. This is sure to blindside coverage making. Unlike what many imagine, the decadal census is not only concerning the headcount of individuals. It is a treasure trove of statistical info on a big gamut of indicators. Because the census serves as a body of reference for the pattern design of just about all State and personal sampling workouts within the nation, the shortage of well timed knowledge is sure to erode, over time, the standard of survey-based statistics as effectively.

The delay in conducting the census will not be the primary occasion of derailment of the federal government’s statistical calendar. Various different surveys, together with the consumption expenditure survey and the casual sector enterprise survey, have additionally been delayed. This raises bigger questions concerning the dedication of the regime towards preserving the integrity of our statistical establishments. This is a tragedy as a result of India’s statistical prowess at one time was thought of one of the best exterior the superior nations.

It shall be naïve to suppose that the choice to postpone or delay necessary statistical workouts is taken on the stage of technocrats with out the endorsement of the political govt. While there isn’t any level in speculating on the explanations behind such selections, the irony couldn’t be higher. The current regime takes satisfaction in claiming that the Indian State has turn into stronger beneath its watch. The well timed and scientific assortment of statistics is among the many key traits of a contemporary state, particularly a democracy. On this depend, the Indian State appears to have misplaced a few of its earlier capability.

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