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India Human Development Survey-II Advisory Panel Meeting
August 11, 2016

NCAER Conference Room

The fifth meeting of the Advisory Panel of the India Human Development Survey (IHDS-II), chaired by Pronab Sen, former Chairman, National Statistical Commission, was held at the NCAER Conference Room on August 11, 2016. The IHDS is the first large panel survey conducted jointly by the NCAER and University of Maryland for the same households at two points in time, viz. 2004-05 and 2011-12, and is led by Sonalde Desai (Senior Fellow, NCAER and Professor, University of Maryland), Amaresh Dubey (Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Senior Consultant, NCAER) and Reeve Vanneman (Professor, University of Maryland). The goal of this programme is to document changes in the daily lives of Indian households including the way they live, work, educate their children, care for their aged parents, and deal with ill health. IHDS-I data were collected in 2004-05 from 41,554 households. This exercise was repeated in 2011-12 for IHDS-II, when the same households were revisited, with a high re-contact rate of 83 per cent after seven years, including 90 per cent in rural and 70 per cent in urban areas. The panel survey provides a rich empirical database available free of charge to a wide range of researchers in India and abroad. The IHDS data are currently being used by an estimated 7,000 users worldwide. 


The Advisory Panel members who attended the meeting, apart from the Chair, Pronab Sen, included Satish Agnihotri, former Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat and currently Professor, IIT, Mumbai; Priyanka Bansal, representing Soumya Swaminathan, Secretary (DHR) and Director-General (Health Systems Research), ICMR; Ashwini Deshpande, Professor, Delhi University; Dipankar Gupta; G.C. Manna, Director-General and CEO, National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO); Arvind Pandey, Director, National Institute of Medical Statistics, ICMR; Ms Anna Roy, Advisor, NITI Aayog; Sayeed Unisa, Professor, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS); and Shekhar Shah, Director General, NCAER. The IHDS project leaders, Sonalde Desai, Amaresh Dubey and Reeve Vanneman (by video conferencing) highlighted the achievements and challenges of carrying out the first large scale national panel survey in India. 


While delivering the opening remarks, Shekhar Shah stated that IHDS represents NCAER’s many forays into large-scale data collection since the 1950s and builds on the Human Development Profile of India (HDPI) initiated in the 1990s, which signified its first multipurpose household survey. He also highlighted the immense possibilities of the panel survey, with IHDS-II and IHDS-I being the second and fourth most downloaded data sets, respectively, from among the archives of the Inter-University Consortium of Political and Social Research (ICPSR), University of Michigan. 


The chair of the Panel, Pronab Sen said that it was important to decide if the IHDS should continue in its current form or assume a new form, especially since we are now on the cusp of starting IHDS-III. He also said that it is imperative to assess the extent to which IHDS-I and IHDS-II have predominantly been used as panels or as standalone cross-sections because the main purpose of the survey was to generate panel data. He said that developments in academia are also increasingly stressing the use of panel data.   


Amaresh Dubey suggested that access to multi-topic surveys like IHDS reshapes academic discourse by allowing researchers to