STANDING COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC STATISTICS
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Context: The Union Government has announced a major reform for the internal oversight mechanism for official data, replacing the Standing Committee on Economic Statistics (SCES) with a new Standing Committee on Statistics (SCoS).
- The new SCoS will have the responsibility to review the framework and results of all NSO surveys and advise on methodological issues, data quality, dissemination and coordination with other data producers. It will also examine the existing data gaps and recommend new surveys or data sources to fill them.
- The new committee will be chaired by Pronab Sen, India's first chief statistician and the former chairman of the National Statistical Commission (NSC), which is the apex body for official statistics in India.
Standing Committee on Statistics (SCoS)
- The Standing Committee on Economic Statistics (SCES) was set up in 2019 to review and harmonise the concepts, definitions, classifications and methodologies of various economic statistics produced by different ministries and departments.
- It was chaired by the Chief Statistician of India (CSI) and had 27 members from various ministries, departments, agencies and academic institutions.
- The SCES was mandated to submit its report by June 2020, but it could not do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues.
- Recently, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) announced that the Standing Committee on Statistics (SCoS) that will replace the SCES and will have a broader mandate and scope.
- The SCoS will have a broader mandate than the SCES, as it will cover not only economic data but also social and environmental data.
- It will have 10 official members from various ministries and departments and four non-official members who are eminent academics in the field of statistics. It can also co-opt up to two additional members as per the requirement.
- It will review and monitor the statistical activities of all the ministries and departments and will advise them on improving the quality, coverage, timeliness and credibility of official statistics.
- The SCoS will also coordinate with the National Statistical Commission (NSC), which is the apex body for setting policies and standards for statistical systems in India.
- The SCoS will enhance the coordination and integration of various statistical activities across different ministries and departments and reduce duplication and inconsistency of data.
- It will improve the quality and reliability of official statistics by adopting international standards and best practices and by addressing data gaps and limitations.
- It will increase the transparency and accountability of official statistics by ensuring regular dissemination and publication of data and by involving stakeholders and experts in the statistical process.
- It will strengthen the credibility and trustworthiness of official statistics by addressing data controversies and criticisms and by ensuring data integrity and independence.
- It may face resistance or non-cooperation from some ministries or departments that may not be willing to share or revise their data or methodologies.
- It may face resource constraints or capacity gaps in terms of manpower, infrastructure, technology or funds to carry out its functions effectively.
- It may face legal or institutional hurdles in accessing or using data from various sources or platforms that may have different rules or regulations governing data collection, storage or sharing.
- It may face political or public pressure or interference in producing or releasing data that may have sensitive or controversial implications for policy or decision-making.
- The government should ensure that the SCoS is given adequate autonomy, authority and support to perform its duties without any interference or influence.
- The SCoS should establish a clear mechanism for consultation and collaboration with the NSC, which is the supreme body for overseeing the statistical system in India.
- The SCoS should engage with various stakeholders, such as data producers, users, analysts, researchers, media and civil society organisations, to solicit their feedback, inputs and suggestions on official statistics.
- The SCoS should adopt a proactive approach to communicate and disseminate its findings, recommendations and reports to the public and policymakers in a timely and accessible manner.
Statistics Day: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/statistics-day-40
Q. How can the collection, analysis and dissemination of reliable and timely statistics and data support the formulation, implementation and evaluation of effective policies and programs for economic growth, social inclusion and environmental sustainability in India?