STANDING COMMITTEE ON STATISTICS (SCOS)
Why in the News
- The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has formed a new Standing Committee on Statistics (SCoS) to advise on official data, including the household surveys carried out by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO).
- SCoS will replace a similar panel set up in December 2019 to advise on economic statistics.
- It will be headed by India’s first Chief Statistician, Pronab Sen.
- SCoS has broader mandate to help design surveys for all types of data.
- It will also identify data gaps and conduct pilot surveys for new data sets.
- The panel would be able to deliver quality guidance as it comprises 14 members in comparison to the 28-member economic data review panel which found it difficult to establish a coherent consensus.
Functioning of the SCoS
- First task for the SCos would be to review the results of the Household Consumption Expenditure Survey (HCES) by the NSSO.
- The HCES is a key tool to revise indicators like the Consumer Price Index and the Gross Domestic Product, as well as to ascertain people’s living standards over time.
- SCoS will have to sensitise users on the methods deployed and interpretational nuances they necessitate.
Recent Data Obfuscation
- The government had decided to ignore the findings of the last quinquennial employment survey citing data quality issues.
- Later, the government officials discredited the official statistical machinery’s methods. Saying it reflected elevated economic distress in households in the NSSO’s consumption and employment surveys.
- Recently, the members of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister raised criticisms to overcome the adverse outcomes included in the latest HCES.
- The decision to release data should be left to the independent National Statistical Commission constituted last year.
- There is also a need to fill the vacancies currently present in the National Statistical Commission to make it an efficient and effective organisation.
- Instead of discrediting or discouraging home grown data, there is a need to improve the credibility of the data and the organisation releasing it. This will better help to disseminate the governance outcomes among the larger public.
- SCoS has to ability to bridge the trust deficit between the statistical systems and data users. That will eliminate the gaps present in the current data structure.
- At the same time, the government needs to acknowledge and address some ground realities which have caused this vacuum in the statistical domain.