Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Monday, Dec 20, 2004
Industry & Economy
`Statistics-planning synergy vital for economic growth'
Mr Oscar Fernandes
New Delhi , Dec. 19
THE Minister for Statistics and Programme Implementation, Mr Oscar Fernandes, has called for synergy between statisticians and planners, as it is vital for economic growth.
Releasing the results of the 58th round of the National Sample Survey (NSS) here on Friday while inaugurating a seminar on its outcome, Mr Fernandes said that the whole exercise may not have much meaning if the data does not help in improving the living conditions of the common man.
The data collected through sample surveys, he said, must be put to optimal use in framing polices and programmes. And these, in turn, must result in raising the living standards.
Keeping this in mind, more such surveys under progress will provide the latest data for taking new initiatives and modified decisions, he said.
Referring to the large-scale surveys on consumer expenditure conducted every five years by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), Mr Fernandes said that the data so collected reflect the living standards of the people. The Planning Commission utilises these figures to make an estimation of the number of people living below the poverty line.
In the 58th round, though the data on consumer expenditure collected from a relatively small sample of households, as part of the annual exercise, may not be directly used for poverty estimation, it would be helpful in a variety of cases, the Minister said.
For instance, housing conditions and urban slums, which formed a major segment of the 58th round, will help the Government in taking various welfare measures for improving the conditions of people in the target group.
The other areas covered in this round included disability, employment and unemployment and the facilities available in the villages, he said.
In particular, the data on disability will go a long way in reducing the number of handicapped persons in the country. The collection of data on disability, the Minister said, was taken up at the request of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for evolving strategies and interventions in the Tenth Plan period.
The data requirement, he said, was not only numbers but also the socio-economic characteristics of the disabled such as their age structure, literacy level, vocational training, employment, causative factors, age at the onset of disability, and so on.
For the first time in this round, information on the mentally disabled persons was also collected at the request of the Ministry of Social Justice, he said.
Mr Fernandes also disclosed that the NSS today covers a "sample size" of about 14,000-16,000 villages and urban blocks in the Central sample at the all-India level for a round of one-year duration.
Besides the Central sample, there is a somewhat matching "State sample", which is used by most of the States and Union Territories. From a small beginning in 1950 covering 1,833 villages in the entire country, the sample in the survey has now grown 10 times, the Minister said.
Speaking on the subject, Mr Hari Narayan, Secretary, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, said that significant changes have taken place in policy-making, with the availability of data on a large scale and on a variety of subjects.
He said that a survey on warehousing facilities available in the country is currently being added. He felt that data should not remain in the domain of policy planners and researchers, but should become a matter of common knowledge.
He urged the NSSO to concentrate on areas of communication and said that to get more visibility, the data should be made available in regional languages and children and students should have easy access to them.
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