NCAER signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) in New Delhi today to use new data technologies, knowledge generation and knowledge sharing, and capacity building in the field of official statistics. The MoU was signed by Dr Anil Kumar Sharma, NCAER Secretary and Operations Director and Shri Ajay Kumar Mehta, Deputy Director General MoSPI, in the presence of Dr Shekhar Shah, Director-General, NCAER, Shri Pravin Srivastava, Secretary, MoSPI cum Chief Statistician of India, Shri Jyotirmoy Poddar, Director General, Central Statistics Office, and other senior officers of MoSPI. NCAER was represented by a large team of researchers who work on data collection, including Dr Santanu Pramanik, the Deputy Director of the new NCAER National Data Innovation Centre, set up recently by NCAER to further its aim of remaining at the cutting-edge of scientific data collection. Shri Srivastava and Dr Shah both spoke of the high hopes the two entities had of the mutual learning and innovation that would emerge from the MoU.
The Ministry is embarking on major reforms in the national statistical system aimed at improving the coverage, quality and periodicity of its statistical products and processes, and their use in a federated system by leveraging government-wide data sets, establishing common standards, promoting greater use of technology and expanding capabilities. NCAER’s MoU with MoSPI is based on mutual collaboration and learning and will promote cooperation in many areas of data collection and analysis, particularly in piloting and experimentation with new data technologies, knowledge generation and knowledge sharing, and capacity building.
Carrying out household and other surveys has been a distinctive part of NCAER’s work since its inception in 1956. NCAER has a number of well-known national surveys to its credit: these include the Rural Economic and Demographic Survey or REDS (possibly the world’s second oldest panel data set); the National Survey of Household Income and Expenditure or NSHIE (the first national survey in India to collect direct household income data); and the India Human Development Survey or IHDS (India’s only national household panel data set). Data from these surveys have been used extensively by scholars and policymakers all over the world.
Some of the key areas identified for improvement in the MoU include review of the existing official statistics system and development of an ICT plan for mainstreaming technology and statistical data integration across agencies and states; use of technology for survey instruments and processing of data for large-scale surveys and data analytics; creation of a national data warehouse for administrative statistical datasets; improvement in the quality and coverage of core statistics; establishment of common standards and protocols for data collection; development of new ICT-based framework for measurement of social and economic indicators in the emerging knowledge-based economy; and capacity building for statistical activities including big data analytics, and technical reporting.
The MoU will offer NCAER the opportunity to provide inputs to MoSPI on broad-ranging analytical and data collection activities, including through the methodological pilots being done by its NDIC and others at NCAER and the vast experience of national level data collection NCAER has accumulated through its 60 years of survey based research.
After the signing ceremony, there was a lively exchange between MoSPI senior officers and NCAER staff on the areas of cooperation that could be explored under the MoU, further testifying to the potential utility of the new arrangement.