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Government plans a private sector core team for stats of the nation

The ministry of statistics and programme implementation (MoSPI) is in talks with the ministry of skills development and entrepreneurship to build skill development courses and set criteria to rope in enumerators through private agencies.

“There is a shortage of enumerators and we are looking at some capacity building for core survey work,” said an official in the know of the details but said there are no numbers to corroborate how many statisticians the country can produce.

Consider this: The ongoing Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), that is India’s first computer-based survey, had around 10% sanctioned posts and above 700 people were hired on contract basis for investigatory and supervisory roles.

The two ministries are in preliminary stages of talks to build skill development courses and set criteria to rope in enumerators.

While the skills development ministry would select agencies to train people to become enumerators, both ministries will jointly lay the criteria for them to fulfil.

Data from the National Statistics Organisation (NSO) is central to India’s policy making as it the official source of key socio-economic indicators including consumption and employment, collected via large-scale sample surveys.

Separately, the government is also considering to rope in agencies like KANTAR IMRB that could recruit trained enumerators.

It also plans to get on board Internat ional Inst itute for Population Sciences and state governments who can take trained enumerators.

“The country needs more statisticians and the capacity of the system at present is limited. It needs to be strengthened,” said another official.

Staff constraints had prevented the NSO from increasing the sample size, that is, the number of people surveyed. The higher the number of people surveyed, the lower is the margin of error, and more reliable is the data. Manpower shortage also limits the office from taking up new surveys. The quality of data, therefore, suffers both on account of insufficient sample sizes as well as relatively untrained field staff.

“This will reduce the pressure on MoSPI especially because there is a plethora of surveys across sectors which need to be conducted.

Moreover, we will end up creating a skills set irrespective of the education background. We want more people to qualify as enumerators,” the first official said, adding that a separate sector skills council can’t be created for this exercise.

The issue of capacity building also came up at a recent meeting of the National Statistical Council.

Source: Economic Times