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National Statistical Experts resign on being sidelined

Another burning issue was delays in the release of the new NSSO employment survey data, which was examined by the statistical body. The new survey data, called ‘periodic labour force survey’, has not been made public even though it was approved by the NSC in December.

Saima Siddiqui

Saima SiddiquiBy Saima Siddiqui

Published on 30 Jan 2019 6:19 AM GMT

National Statistical Experts resign on being sidelined
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National Statistical Experts resign on being sidelined
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New Delhi: The only two non-government members of India’s National Statistical Commission have resigned on Monday citing a lack of involvement in key decisions such as the recently-released gross domestic product (GDP) back series, launch of the new economic census and delay in publishing the employment-unemployment report for 2016-17 despite its approval.

The two members quit the organization, leaving just chief statistician Pravin Srivastava and NITI Aayog’s Amitabh Kant at the head of a body that is the apex advisory organisation for all of the country’s core statistical activities.

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NSC is the apex advisory body on statistical matters.

According to sources with knowledge of the matter, both P.C. Mohanan and J.V. Meenakshi submitted their resignations on Monday (January 28).

Mohanan is a former member of the Indian Statistical Service and Meenakshi is a professor at the Delhi School of Economics. According to the NSC’s website, their tenures were supposed to end in June 2020. Mohanan also served as the chairperson of the NSC.

According to media reports, the inability of the Modi government to interface with and effectively take on board the commission’s contributions prompted them to quit NSC.

Another burning issue was delays in the release of the new NSSO employment survey data, which was examined by the statistical body. The new survey data, called ‘periodic labour force survey’, has not been made public even though it was approved by the NSC in December.

The Central government has over the last year found itself in a number of controversies over issues of national statistics, most recently over the release of the back-series GDP data.

Last May, media reports indicated that the Centre wanted to invest the NSC with more powers by altering it as a public corporation and giving it powers to audit and regulate the country’s core statistics.

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“The commission is being sidelined, neglected. We felt that the NSC was not doing its job and we were not being involved in key decisions. The NSC’s job is to restore trust in official statistics and we were not serving that purpose,” said one of the members who has resigned.

“The GDP backseries was released from the Niti Aayog even though that is not the norm. Though we are not involved in the GDP computation, the commission is the apex body,” the member said.

The back series, released in November, adjusted the GDP numbers for the period using new methodology with the base year as FY12 and has scaled back growth in the UPA years from the peak of 10.3% in FY11 to 8.5%. The new series also highlighted that the contribution of the services sector was overestimated earlier and has been revised down. “They were not happy with the way the government is treating the commission,” said a person aware of the development.

Former NSC chairman Radha Binod Barman said that Independence of the NSC should be maintained. It is supposed to be impartial .Therefore integrity of such organizations should not be sidelined.

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Saima Siddiqui

Saima Siddiqui

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