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Opinion

The new challenge for data collection | Editorial – editorials

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On February 6, political scientists Devesh Kapur and Neelanjan Sircar wrote on these pages with a warning. They suggested that the controversy surrounding the Law on Citizenship (Amendment) – National Population Registry – National Registry of Citizens (CAA-NPR-NRC) could deter citizens from providing information to government agencies that collect statistical data. Reports indicate that these concerns may be proving true. A key survey of the National Statistical Office (NSO) may be affected, after adverse comments from several states that describe the lack of cooperation of citizens, who fear sharing information and the security risks of enumerators.

If this is true, it will have serious implications for policy formulation. All policies are based on official statistics for both design and implementation. These statistics should be updated periodically to take into account changes in society and the economy. If official agencies cannot collect data, regardless of the reason involved, policy makers will have to work without credible information. To be sure, since the protests began, the government has been saying that there are still no plans to start the NRC. But fears persist, and there seems to be skepticism towards all government polls. The NSO continues to conduct surveys almost continuously. The work for the 2021 Census has already begun. The inability to carry them out without problems will only worsen the credibility crisis faced by official statistics in India. The government needs to do more to rebuild trust with citizens and restore the integrity of the data collection process.

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