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Chapter # 41. Data Led Governance and Policy Making


Evidence based policy making should be made integral to the overall governance structure in New India, 2022-23. To achieve this, timely generation and dissemination of robust data at all levels of governance would be a pre-requisite. This would require:

  • Collecting data for new measurable parameters using latest technologies.
  • Improving efficiencies in processes related to existing data collection by government departments and agencies.
  • Expanding warehousing facilities for storing and integrating data from different sources.
  • Making data available for industry practitioners, academicians, researchers, etc., wherever feasible.
  • Integrating data analysis and interactive data visualization into all policy formulation.

Current Situation 


Countries, where large-scale developmental efforts are needed, require their policy delivery mechanisms to be robust and efficient. However, paradoxically, these countries have very little data needed for the selection, implementation and evaluation of effective policies.1

In India, decision-making is often based on surveys and consultations that are released with a considerable lag. For e.g., the population census comes out once in ten years; the latest National Family Health Survey – 4 was released in 2015-16 after a period of 10 years.

Rapid advancements in technology have led to an explosive growth in the volume of data produced. Data is now being touted as one of the most valuable resources. Given the proprietary access to high value data sources, public services and governance systems in India can better harness the value of this data.

Statistical system in India

At the government level, various ministries/ departments of the Government of India, state governments and the Office of the Registrar General Census Commissioner under the Ministry of Home Affairs collect data. One important step taken towards creating the availability of non-sensitive data for public consumption on a common platform was the launch of National Data Sharing and

Accessibility Policy (NDSAP) in 2012. The objective2 of the policy was to “increase the accessibility and easier sharing of non-sensitive data amongst the registered users and their availability for scientific, economic and social developmental purposes”.

This led to the creation of the Open Government Data initiative where the domain was registered in 2012. It is now one of the important pillars of the Digital India programme.

As stated by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoS&PI),3 central ministries/departments or state government departments that are responsible for an area/ subject are usually the key agencies for collecting the statistics for that domain.

The usual flow of statistical information is from states to the centre except in cases where the operations are part of centrally sponsored schemes or when the data is collected through national sample surveys. Viewed from the national level, the Indian statistical system at the centre is laterally decentralized between the ministries and departments while the vertical represented by each ministry is vertically decentralized between the centre and the states.

A similar decentralized structure exists at the state levels, which have lateral decentralization at the state department level and vertical decentralization at the district level. In addition, statistical offices at the central and state levels, i.e., the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and the Directorate of Economics and Statistics (DESs) respectively, bring together all statistics related to India and examine various aspects including quality, accuracy, and timeliness.

The need for evidence-based policymaking has been recognised for years now. Five-year plans in the past have stressed the need for frequent and robust data collection processes in various contexts ranging from health to natural calamities to agriculture. The Report of the Dr. Rangarajan Commission in 2001 also acknowledges the increased need for data in the decision-making process.4


The following constraints need to be overcome to enable India’s transition to a data-led governance structure.

  • There is over-reliance on data collection through surveys. These are released at a considerable lag, which diminishes their usefulness in policymaking. There is a dearth of availability of real time operational/administrative data.
  • One challenge in this regard is that considerable numbers of stakeholders are involved in enabling data collection systems that are premised on a “bottom-to-top” approach. It will be a huge challenge to get all these stakeholders on board for a streamlined data collection and reporting mechanism as envisaged for 2022-23.
  • There is a problem with the usability of data that is currently generated.
  • Large volumes of data collected by different government agencies and departments are not shared, even among the departments.
  • The data shared is often not available in machine readable format or cannot be integrated with data from other sources to help develop multi-dimensional insights.
  • Enabling adoption of the latest technology at the grassroots level would involve substantial investment along with skill development of local functionaries.
  • Furthermore, planning will be required to integrate different technologies so that ground level data can be aggregated.
  • Lastly, there is considerable lack of awareness regarding currently available data sources.


Way Forward

The following framework, which focuses on the key aspects requiring intervention, needs to be enabled by 2022-23 to achieve transparent governance:

Data collection methods should be streamlined through the following measures:

  • Both administrative and survey data need to be collected in digital formats across various sectors in real time to move from paper based to digitally driven operations. This would require the adoption of latest technologies that require recording in digital format, geo-tagging etc. This will address the issues related to time lags, data cleansing, etc., associated with surveys to a large extent.
  • Ensure availability of data at a more granular level – village/block/district. NITI Aayog is already engaged in developing a National Data  Analytics Portal, which is envisioned as a central repository for real-time data across different sectors for all states/UTs.
  • Enable data sharing in real time through Application Programming Interfaces (API)  between data stored across different databases and across ministries in a central location for easy access by the public.

The following specific steps will ensure that the above objectives are achieved.

  1. Data integration and quality assurance 

Most of the administrative and survey data are generated at the state level. It is recommended that after going through the process of quality assurance, where discrepancies are removed, and formats are standardized, the data should be integrated in a state data repository. This process should be followed by all states based on guidelines drawn up by the central government. 

Reliable and timely data is essential for evidence-based policy making, which should be the norm. Necessary reform of our statistics and data collection system must be undertaken as soon as possible to achieve this objective.

Some state governments like Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, and Rajasthan have taken important steps to leverage technology for evidence-based policymaking. However, these steps need to be further streamlined and adopted by all states. This will empower the officer on the ground to take data led decisions.

This aspect forms an integral part of the Digital Transformation Index being instituted by NITI Aayog. Measures to leverage technology for informed policymaking will be implemented in a time bound manner and closely monitored for desired results.

  1. Data protection

 The issue of confidentiality will need to be ensured while dealing with citizen level data. The Justice Sri Krishna Committee Report submitted its recommendation in July 2018. Its recommendations are under active consideration to formulate a data protection law in India.

  1. Role of tertiary big data 

For better governance and evidence-based policymaking, it is recommended that tertiary big data collected by private third parties should be used. Over time, the National Data Analytics Portal aims at collecting, analysing and disseminating various types of tertiary data of different levels of granularity. 

  1. Skill development and restructuring 

Government statistical organizations responsible for data collection and reporting need to be updated on new technologies. Data scientists with multiple skills in the areas of statistics, analytics, computer science and programming are rare in the Indian government. MoS&PI needs to have an adequate number of data scientists to take advantage of new technologies.

Re-skilling needs to be promoted across government agencies, both at the state level and at the centre. A roadmap for strengthening various government agencies including MoS&PI needs to be formulated and implemented in a time bound manner.


Chapter # 41. Data Led Governance and Policy Making

Objectives Evidence based policy making should be made integral to the overall governance structure in New India, 2022-23. To achieve this, timely gen

Chapter # 40. Optimizing the Use of Land Resources

Optimizing the Use of Land Resources-Ensuring that land markets function smoothly, through efficient allocation of land across uses, provision of secu

Chapter # 39. Modernizing City Governance For Urban Transformation

Objective  City Governance For Urban Transformation To transform our cities into economically vibrant and environmentally sustainable habitats that p

Chapter # 38. Civil Services Reforms

Objective  civil-services-reforms To put in place a reformed system of recruitment, training and performance evaluation of the civil service to ensur

Chapter # 37. Legal, Judicial and Police Reforms

Objective To ensure the safety and security of citizens and ensure access to effective legal systems and speedy delivery of justice. Current Situation

Chapter # 36. The North-East Region

Objectives The North-East Region (NER) should: Have adequate road, rail and air connectivity, waterways, internet connectivity and financial inclusion

Chapter # 35. Balanced Regional Development: Transforming Aspirational Districts

Objective  Balanced Regional Development: Transforming Aspirational Districts Achieve balanced development in India by uplifting 115 districts, curre

Chapter # 34. Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Other Tribal Groups and Minorities

SCs, STs, OBCs, De-Notified Tribes (DNTs), Nomadic Tribes (NTs) and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (SNTs) Objective  To accelerate the socio-economic developm

Chapter # 33. Senior Citizens, Persons with Disability and Transgender Persons

SENIOR CITIZENS  Objective To ensure a life of dignity, social security and safety for senior citizens, enabling them to actively participate in econ

Chapter # 32. Gender

Objective  To create an enabling environment, sans institutional and structural barriers. To enhance the female labour force participation rate to at

Chapter # 31. Nutrition

Objectives  Under POSHAN Abhiyaan, achieve the following outcomes by 2022-23, compared to the baseline of 2015-16 (National Family Health Survey-4):

Chapter # 30. Universal Health Coverage

Objectives  On the strong platform of Pradhan Mantri – Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY): Attain a coverage of at least 75 per cent of the population

Chapter # 29. Human Resources for Health

Objectives  Achieve a doctor-population ratio of at least 1:1400 (WHO norm 1:1000) and nurse-population ratio of at least 1:500 (WHO norm 1:400) by 2

Chapter # 28. Comprehensive Primary Health Care

Objectives  Under Ayushman Bharat, scale-up a new vision for comprehensive primary health care across the country, built on the platform of health an

Chapter # 27. Public Health Management and Action

Objectives  To revamp radically the public and preventive health system in the nation through the following strategic interventions: Mobilize public

Chapter # 26. Skill Development

Obejctives  For harnessing the demographic advantage that it enjoys, India needs to build the capacity and infrastructure for skilling/reskilling/up-

Chapter # 25. Teacher Education and Training

Objectives There cannot be a quality education system without quality teachers. Therefore, a thorough revamp of the entire ecosystem of teacher educat

Chapter # 24. Higher Education

Objectives  Increase the gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education from 25 per cent in 2016-17 to 35 per cent by 2022-23. Make higher education

23. School Education

Objectives Universal access and retention: o Hundred per cent enrolment and retention at elementary education and secondary education levels; achieve

Chapter # 22. Sustainable Environment

Objective  The objective is to maintain a clean, green and healthy environment with peoples’ participation to support higher and inclusive economic

Chapter # 21. Water Resources

Objectives By 2022-23, India’s water resources management strategy should facilitate water security to ensure adequate availability of water for l

Chapter # 20. Swash Bharat Mission

Objectives The key objectives of the Swachh Bharat Mission include: 1. Making India Open Defecation Free (ODF) by October 2, 2019. 2. Carrying out ext

Chapter # 19.Smart Cities for Urban Transformation

Objectives  Leverage the ‘Smart Cities’ concept in select urban clusters to: Drive job creation and economic growth. Significantly improve effici

Chapter # 18. Digital Connectivity

Objectives Given the relevance of digital connectivity to economic growth and the need to eliminate the digital divide by 2022-23, India should aim to

Chapter # 17. Logistics

Objectives Achieve multi-modal movement of cargo on par with global logistics standards. Reduce the logistics cost to less than 10 per cent of GDP fro

Chapter # 16.Ports, Shipping and Inland Waterways

Objectives  Double the share of freight transported by coastal shipping and inland waterways from 6 per cent in 2016-171 to 12 per cent by 2025. Incr

Chapter # 15. Civil Aviation

Objectives Enhance the affordability of flying to enable an increase in domestic ticket sales from 103.75 million in 2016-171 to 300 million by 2022.2

Chapter # 14. Railways

Objectives By 2022-23, India should have a rail network that is not only efficient, reliable and safe, but is also cost-effective and accessible, both

Chapter # 13. Surface Transport

Objectives Increasing the coverage and quality of roads and highways is critical to enhancing connectivity and internal and external trade. By 2022-23

Chapter # 12. Energy

Objectives The government’s on-going energy sector policies aim “to provide access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy”. At t

Chapter # 11. Minerals

Objectives Double the area explored from 10 per cent of obvious geological potential (OGP) area to 20 per cent.1 Accelerate the growth of the mining s

Chapter # 10. Travel, Tourism and Hospitality

Objectives  Increase India’s share in global international tourist arrivals from 1.18 per cent to 3 per cent. Increase the number of foreign touris

Chapter # 9. Housing For All

Objectives Provide every family with a pucca house, with a water connection, toilet facilities, and 24×7 electricity supply and access. Build 2.9

Chapter # 8. Financial Inclusion

Objectives Banking for the unbanked  o Bank accounts: Ensuring universal access to bank accounts, which are a gateway to all financial services.  o

Chapter # 7.Doubling Farmers’ Income (III): Value Chain & Rural Infrastructure

Objectives • Transform the rural economy through the creation of modern rural infrastructure and an integrated value chain system. • Leverage the

Chapter # 6.Doubling Farmers’ Income (II): Policy & Governance

Objectives Create a policy environment that enables income security for farmers, whilst maintaining India’s food security. Encourage the participati

Chapter # 5.Doubling Farmers’ Income (I): Modernizing Agriculture

Objectives • Modernize agricultural technology, increase productivity, efficiency and crop diversification. • Generate income and employment throu

Chapter # 4.Industry

Objectives Double the current growth rate of the manufac-turing sector by 2022. Promote in a planned manner the adoption of the latest technology adva

Chapter # 3. Technology and Innovation

Objectives India should be among the top 50 countries in the Global Innovation Index by 2022-23.1 Five of our scientific research institutions should

Chapter # 2.Employment and Labour Reforms

Objectives Complete codification of central labour laws into four codes by 2019. Increase female labour force participation to at least 30 per cent by

Chapter # 1 Growth (India @ 75)

Objectives Steadily accelerate the gross domestic product(GDP) growth rate to achieve a target of about 8 per cent during 2018-23 This will raise the


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