This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Challenges India Faced In Colleting Data And Statistics During COVID

More from IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

India has historically had a powerful statistical system. However, the global pandemic that pushed India into a nationwide lockdown has disrupted not only normal life but also the collection of statistics.

It is important to understand the shift the consecutive lockdowns in multiple states have created in the macroeconomic data and whether the statistical system is robust to face the unprecedented challenges created by unexpected events such as lockdowns and curfews.

To discuss the multiple themes and subtopics to assess the impact on Indian macroeconomic statistical systems GenAlpha Data Center at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, hosted #WebPolicyTalk-The State of Statistics #DataDiscourses, special lecture, Evaluating Indian Macroeconomic Statistical Systems: Data Trends, Challenges for Evidence and Impact amid COVID-19 on 11 May, 2021, with Dr J Dennis Rajakumar, Director of Economic and Political Weekly Research Foundation, as the guest speaker.

Dr Arjun Kumar, Director IMPRI, opened the session by introducing the guest speakers and the discussants. The discussion was handed over to Dr Rajakumar for his opening remarks.

Statistics And Its State During COVID

Dr Rajakumar.

Dr Rajakumar started his talk by raising the difficulty of covering a wide range of topics. It is difficult to define a criterion to evaluate the Indian Macroeconomic Statistical System. Therefore, he based his talk on four major macroeconomic indicators: GDP, IIP, CPI and WPI.

He would be evaluating the impact of the lockdown and COVID-19 pandemic on these four indicators based on press releases. According to him, a robust statistical system must ensure continuity and an uninterrupted system for collecting statistics. Therefore, he wants to evaluate during his presentation how the statistical system took cognisance during the past year.

With nationwide lockdown being imposed, it disrupted the process of collecting data, especially indices such as CPI and WPI, which require data to be collected in primary format. It also affected the field visits, which ensured a regular flow of information.

Due to the extension provided by the regulatory bodies to submit information on financial returns, the usual data sources were substituted by GST or interacting with professional bodies. These methods, however, proved to be limited in nature.

The period of the pandemic has proven to affect the quality, flow and availability of information and CSO (Central Statistical Organisation) faced challenges with specific sectors or indices.

Shrinking GDP Statistics

While talking about GDP-related releases, Dr Rajakumar explained the kind of estimates that were released like quarterly estimates, advanced estimated and revised estimates. Quarterly and advanced estimates were affected during the pandemic. The first two quarters showed a negative GDP growth rate.

Looking closely at annual estimates, in the first advanced estimates produced GDP at market price was expected to fall -7.7% and the second advanced estimated predicted to fall to -8.0%. This is attributed to the heavy subsidies provided by the government to certain sectors and the reliefs provided to the banking system, which makes the GDP at market prices differ drastically from GVA at Basic Prices.

Estimates Of Index Of Industrial Promotion

Even with a lockdown, the release date of the Index of Industrial Production was never missed. However, the lockdown did affect the response rate. Since April 2020, the response rates have been improving and the first revision (T+1) estimates also have been improving up to January 2021. The final revision (T+2) has also improved over the months.

However, looking closely at the IIP General Index except for the months of March, April and May, other months have not seen much change.

Image provided by the author.

Dr Rajakumar had taken the average of IIP General Index for the quarters and noticed that the difference between provisional estimates and final revisions was minor. While analysing the monthly data, the IIP values were more prominent in the pandemic’s initial months, and the NSSO found it appropriate not to calculate the growth rate.

In one of the press releases, it was commented“It is not appropriate to compare the IIP of April 2020 with earlier months and users may like to observe the changes in IIP in the following months.” This was a deliberate step as most industries were not operating from the end of March 2020.

COVID Blues: CPI And WPI

The NSO also releases the Consumer Price Index (CPI). CPI is collected by 1,114 urban markets and 1,181 villages by personal visits by field staff on a weekly roster. On 19 March, the personal visits of these field staff were stopped. For the month of April, price data was collected through telephonic inquiries from designated outlets along with the personal purchase visits done by field staff.

The state-level CPI was not prepared for the month of April and May. In May, the NSSO adopted the Business Continuity Guidelines for imputing the missing sub-group index with an index computed using the index at a higher level of aggregation.

The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) is released in two formats, provisional and final. The price data is collected from various institutional sources and industrial establishments spread across the country through the web-based portal National Informatics Centre (NIC). The impact on WPI caused the Price collection of Manufactured Products through personal visits of price collectors to be suspended with effect from 19 March 2020.

The price movement sub-groups were worked out by taking the prices of only those items for which at least 25% of price quotations were reported from selected manufacturing units.

Strong And Reliable Statistical System

Dr Rajakumar had presented a few concluding remarks on the analysis of the different indicators mentioned before.

“The statistical system has remained resilient in times of crisis.”

Even though the process of collecting data was interrupted, the timeliness of the release of the reports was intact and they have been quick to adapt to an internationally adopted methodology for estimating missing values.

The crisis has also caused the statistical system to be more transparent with the reporting of response rate and percentage of markets covered. Dr Rajakumar believes that the present system can help improve the competency of the system. He also suggested a new outlook at determining CPI by using data from the online sales of goods or services, making it more reliable.

Losing Trust And Confidence In Indian Statistical System

Dr Sengupta.

Dr Rajeswari Sengupta, Assistant Professor, Economics, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development & Research (IGIDR), Mumbai, focused on trust and confidence in the official statistics system.

She stated that after independence, the Indian statistical system received widespread appreciation. however, in the last 10 years, there has been severe erosion of trust and confidence in the official statistical system

The Indian economy has experienced several episodes of fluctuations and volatilities in economies in the last 10 years.

Several corruption scandals from governments, the protracted crisis in banking and private corporate sectors, demonetisation, and patchy implementation of goods and services tax have resulted in a shrinking economy.

She further highlighted that due to all these growing volatilities, the development aggravated the need and urgency among all kinds of stakeholders the demand for data to understand how the economy and its associate sectors are performing.

In the middle of the pandemic, when people are more desperate to understand the state of the economy and what kind of recovery it’s going to experience, there is growing reliance among stakeholders on unofficial data and high-frequency data. Hence, a lot of data coming today is from private organisations.

Today there exist parallel data sources coming from national and private systems resulting in divergence of statistical data and the official statistical system has no longer monopoly on data.

There is a need for an honest and holistic approach to resolving this massive crisis of trust and confidence in the National Statistical System.

She further commented that several steps were needed to build reliability and credibility in official data. First, much greater transparency is required in methods used for calculating statistical data. Also, there should be regular engagement with stakeholders and critics.

It is very important to revive the National Statistical Commission as an independent body.

Reflections

Talking on MIS (Management Information System), Dr Dennis commented that it does not happen to be a system that the planning commission had. Thus, just referring to the data coming from the dashboard is not feasible. Also, MCA data set 2020 is just a financial data set submitted by companies. Thus, it creates serious doubts whether we can use these data sets or not.

Commenting on building up SDP, he said that today we do not follow the bottom-up approach; rather, we follow a top-down approach which means there are estimates for the country as a whole which is then apportioned. The system of apportioning accounts for roughly around 70-75% of SDP.

Sharing views on quarterly estimates, he stated that there was a need to look at estimates from the point of view of not just understanding directions. If the rates and ratios are generated at a more frequency level, it will lead to a more robust data system. He further emphasised the need for the absolute size of GDP estimated even at the sectoral level.

Dr Mohanna.

Dr P C Mohanan, Former Chairman, National Statistical Commission, MoSPI, highlighted the importance of data in crisis situations.

He commented that there exists unavailability of appropriate data while for having consistency, the statistical system follows standardised procedures. On the brighter side, transparency has improved in terms of reporting.

We need a flexible statistical system where we can think of some innovative methods of obtaining data.

Acknowledgement: Arjun Sujit Varma is a Research Intern at IMPRI

Arjun Kumar, Anshula Mehta, Swati Solanki, Mahima Kapoor

You must be to comment.

More from IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

Similar Posts

By JYOTI SINGH

By Naveen ,Sowmiyanarayanan

By Samia Arya

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below