Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 24 July 2023
- India’s Official Data Strengthened by New Statistics Standing Committee
- Global Food Crisis Report 2023: Solutions for Zero Hunger
India’s Official Data Strengthened by New Statistics Standing Committee
- To increase the legitimacy and dependability of official data produced by the National Statistical Office (NSO), the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation recently established a new Standing Committee on Statistics (SCoS).
- Pronab Sen, the first Chief Statistician of India and former head of the National Statistical Commission, is leading a team with the goal of addressing data quality issues and bridging the confidence gap surrounding India’s economic indicators and poverty estimates.
GS Paper 2: Governance, Transparency & Accountability,
Examine how the Standing Committee on Statistics (SCoS) has changed and how its broadened authority and specialised membership can improve the veracity of India’s economic measures and poverty projections. Underline the significance of coordination and transparency in the Government of India’s statistical establishment. (250 Words)
The Standing Committee on Statistics’ Development:
The Standing Committee on Statistics (SCoS) was established as a crucial step towards enhancing India’s statistics infrastructure.The Standing Committee on Economic Statistics, which was established in 2019 to provide guidance on economic data pertaining to the industrial and services sectors, labour force statistics, and high-frequency indicators like the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) and the Consumer Price Index (CPI), is replaced by this one.
Enhanced terms of reference
The new SCoS has “enhanced terms of reference” that allow it to advise the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation on all current surveys and data sets. It also has the power to spot data gaps, suggest solutions for them, and conduct pilot surveys and studies to improve data collection methods.It is noteworthy that the SCoS is made up of a smaller group of experts, including seven distinguished academics, including Professors Biswanath Goldar, Sonalde Desai, and Mausami Bose.
Relevance of SCoS: Resolving Data Quality Issues:
- In recent years, some NSO data, particularly household surveys done by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), have come under scrutiny for their veracity.
- In 2017–18, the government suppressed the findings of two significant NSSO household surveys, citing “data quality issues.” Due to this separation from actual ground reality, economic indices including retail inflation, GDP, and poverty estimates are based on dated data from 2011–2012.
- The SCoS is anticipated to play a significant role in addressing data quality challenges and restoring confidence in India’s official statistics.The committee will focus on educating data users about the nuances of survey design and technique in addition to providing advice on specific surveys and datasets to ensure a better understanding of the results.The committee wants to boost the credibility of India’s statistics by helping the NSO to finalise survey results.
- Enhanced Coordination and Integration: The SCoS will make it easier to coordinate and integrate statistics efforts across different ministries and departments as a result of its increased scope, reducing data duplication and inconsistency.
- Enhanced Transparency and Accountability: The SCoS intends to guarantee consistent data transmission and publication by involving stakeholders and subject-matter experts in the statistics process. This will increase transparency and accountability.
Challenges to Come:
- The SCoS may run into issues with some ministries or departments that are reluctant to share or update their data and methodology.
- Resource and Capacity Constraints:
- The SCoS may be hampered by resource limitations related to labour, infrastructure, technology, or funds.
- Accessing and using data from numerous sources or platforms with varied regulations may present legal or institutional challenges.
- Political and public pressure: These two factors may prevent the creation or release of sensitive or contentious data.
The Government of India’s Statistical Setup:
- The Central Statistical Office (CSO), the Computer Centre, and the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) are all parts of the MoSPI’s two wings, which were established in 1999. The other wing is responsible for programme implementation.
- The Central Statistical Office (CSO), which operated under the Ministry of Planning until 1950, is where the National Statistical Office (NSO) had its beginnings. It changed its name to the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) in 1970, and in 2019 it adopted the NSO moniker to become India’s main statistical organisation.
- The organisational structure of the NSO is made up of numerous divisions and units that are in charge of various statistical tasks. These include, among others, the Divisions of Survey Design and Research, Field Operations, Data Processing, National Accounts, Price Statistics, and Social Statistics.
- A division of the NSO, the CSO specialises in two areas: macroeconomic statistics and national income accounting.Important economic indicators including the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Index of Industrial Production (IIP), Consumer Price Index (CPI), and Wholesale Price Index (WPI) are all produced as a result of it.
- The NSO conducts a number of crucial surveys to collect detailed information on all facets of the Indian economy and society. The Population Census, which is carried out every 10 years in coordination with the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India, is one of these surveys.
- The National Sample Survey (NSS), a comprehensive household survey, offers important data on socioeconomic issues like employment, consumer spending, poverty, education, and health.
- The Economic Census gathers information on businesses, employment, and economic factors.
- Information on the structure and performance of the industrial sector is gathered by the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI).
- Health and morbidity surveys to collect information on healthcare use, disease prevalence, and access to healthcare services.
- The Agricultural Census provides complete information on agricultural holdings, cropping patterns, land use, livestock, and irrigation.
- Overall, the NSO is essential to the gathering and analysis of statistical data, offering insightful information about various facets of India’s economy and society.
The SCoS (Standing Committee on Statistics)
- To update the SCES, which was formed in 2019, and act as a new internal oversight system for official data, the SCoS has been established.
- Need: The Economic Advisory Council (EAC) to the Prime Minister’s criticism of India’s statistics apparatus led to the development of the SCoS. Bibek Debroy, the chairperson of the EAC, emphasised the Indian Statistical Service’s lack of survey design skills.
In summary, the creation of the new Standing Committee on Statistics represents a crucial step forward in raising the calibre and dependability of India’s official data. The SCoS aspires to fill data gaps, improve survey methodology, and restore confidence in the nation’s economic indicators and poverty estimates with its larger scope and expert composition. As a result, India can rely on timely and reliable data to support sustainable development and make informed policy decisions.
Global Food Crisis Report 2023: Solutions for Zero Hunger
The Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC) 2023 published by the Global Network Against Food Crisis (GNAFC) offers important information about the global food insecurity situation. It draws attention to the sheer quantity of hungry people and examines the difficulties in reaching Sustainable Development Goal 2—Zero Hunger.The paper looks at a number of factors that contribute to the prevalence of undernourishment and food insecurity and provides crucial solutions to deal with this urgent problem.
GS Paper 3: Food Security
What are the main causes of food insecurity identified in the Global Report on Food Crises 2023, and how have they affected the rise in the global population of those who are hungry and malnourished? (150 Words)
Important Findings Regarding Hunger and Undernourishment
- According to the GRFC, between 691 million and 783 million individuals in 2022 reported being hungry, a considerable increase over pre-pandemic levels in 2019. In 2022, there were 2.4 billion people who did not have enough access to food, an increase of 391 million over the previous year. Additionally, from 7.9% in 2019 to 9.2% in 2022, the proportion of the world’s population that was undernourished.
- beneficial improvements: The research points out several beneficial improvements in addition to the alarming statistics. Stunting, or being excessively short for one’s age, has decreased in prevalence among children under five, from 204.2 million in 2000 to 148.1 million in 2022. Insufficient nutritional intake or absorption-related child wasting has also decreased, from 54.1 million cases in 2000 to 45 million cases in 2022. According to the report, child overweight or obesity has increased somewhat but not significantly over time, from 5.3% (33 million) in 2000 to 5.6% (37 million) in 2022.
- The cost of a healthy diet: According to the GRFC’s updated estimate, in 2020, 3.2 billion people globally could not afford a nutritious diet, with a minor improvement in 2021. The price of a healthy diet grew globally by 6.7% over the two-year period from 2019 to 2021. In addition, the research predicts that in 2030, about 600 million people would experience chronic undernourishment.
Drivers of Food Insecurity:
- Epidemic-related Disruptions: In 2020, the COVID-19 epidemic and the ensuing lockdowns, economic downturns, and job losses dramatically exacerbated already-existing problems by increasing food insecurity.
- Ukraine War: Ongoing wars, like the war in Ukraine, have worsened the world’s food insecurity and thrown off the flow of food supplies.
- Governmental Policies: Achieving Zero Hunger may be hampered by certain government policies that do not effectively address food insecurity.
- Urbanisation: Due to changes in agrifood systems brought about by the growing urbanisation trend, different demographic groups now experience varying levels of food security.
- Weather and Climate Extremes: In 12 countries, severe food insecurity is now primarily caused by weather-related events and climate extremes. Agricultural production and the supply chains for food have been severely affected as a result of extreme weather events like droughts, floods, and storms.
- Conflict: In 19 countries and territories, conflict and insecurity continue to be the main causes of acute food insecurity. Access to and availability of food in these areas have been significantly hampered by ongoing hostilities and instability.
An Affirmation of Failure
The report serves as a sobering reminder of how far the world has fallen short of meeting Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2), which calls for the eradication of hunger, establishing food security, and enhancing nutrition by the year 2030. The current circumstance emphasises how critical it is to solve food crises and implement effective measures to guarantee food security for everybody.
Alternatives to End Hunger
- The paper highlights the significance of using regulatory incentives to encourage retailers to sell fresh and less processed foods as one solution to ending world hunger. This approach, which makes nutritious diets more widely available, can have a favourable impact on food security.
- Addressing the Safety of Street Food: With almost 2.5 billion people worldwide consuming street food every day, it is important to address this issue. Enhancing the infrastructure and rules governing street food will improve its nutritional safety and standard.
- Building rural infrastructure can increase connectivity for small farms and businesses, supporting food production and distribution. Examples of this type of infrastructure include good rural roads and connections to major networks.
- Strengthening Local Governments: Local governments are essential to the implementation of laws that guarantee everyone has access to and can afford a healthy food. Their active participation can result in multilevel and multi-stakeholder structures that are efficient.
The Global Report on Food Crises 2023 focuses light on the global issue of continuous food insecurity. The international community can make major strides towards attaining Zero Hunger and securing sufficient and nutrient-rich food for all populations by addressing the causes of food insecurity and putting the recommended solutions into action.
Recent Governmental Initiatives to combat Food Insecurity:
- The Indian government has put in place a number of programmes to combat food insecurity and reduce poverty in the nation. These initiatives include, among others:
- The PM Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY) programme intends to give free food grains to the population’s most vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 epidemic and other emergencies.
- One Nation One Ration Card: This programme gives recipients access to free or reduced-priced food grains from the Public Distribution System (PDS) wherever in the nation.
- Atmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana: This programme seeks to improve worker self-reliance and employment possibilities while having a minor influence on food security.
- Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi: This programme supports small and marginal farmers’ incomes, enhancing their financial stability and ensuring their access to food.
- The Intensified Mission Indradhanush 3.0 Scheme: This programme intends to increase immunisation rates among children and expectant mothers, which may have an indirect effect on the nutrition and health of young children.
- Despite these efforts, India still has a difficult time completely eliminating food insecurity. In order to make considerable progress, it will take consistent efforts and all-encompassing policies to address the complicated concerns of access to food, nutrition, and poverty alleviation.
It was established in 2016 by the European Union, FAO, and WFP.In order to avoid, prepare for, and respond to food crises and to promote the Sustainable Development Goal to End Hunger (SDG 2), humanitarian and development actors have formed an alliance.