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Chapter: 12th Statistics : Chapter 8 : Vital Statistics and Official Statistics

Official Statistics

Official statistics are the statistical information published by government agencies or other public bodies, which are collected and compiled on various aspects for administrative purposes.


Official statistics are the statistical information published by government agencies or other public bodies, which are collected and compiled on various aspects for administrative purposes. Official Statistics are collected in a systematic manner through a well-established Statistical System. These information include quantitative and qualitative information on all major areas of citizens’ lives, such as economic and social development, living conditions, health, education and environment. Official statistics should be objective and easily accessible, produced on a continual basis so that measurement of change is possible. The following may be considered as the main functions of the Statistical System:

(i) collection, validation, compilation of data

(ii) publication/dissemination of the statistical information

(iii) maintenance of statistical standards such as definitions, classification, statistical methodology, comparability etc.

(iv) coordination of statistical activities

(v) training statistical personnel

(vi) independence and integrity of its functioning

(vii) international coordination


1. Early History of Statistical System in India

Statistical data collection and compilation began in India during 321-298 BC and are documented in Kautilya’s Arthasastra. Later, during the Moghul’s period, the details of Official Statistics can be found in Ain-i-Akbari written by Abul Fazal in Emperor Akbar’s rule during 1590 AD. It contains Official Statistics of various characteristics including land classification, crop yields, measurement system, revenue etc.

In British India, a statistical survey was conducted, in the year 1807 by Dr.Francis Buchanan, Governor-in-Council of East India Company. Information were collected regarding topographical account of each district, conditions of the inhabitants, their religion and customs, details of fisheries, mines and forests, farm sizes, vegetables grown, commerce, list of useful plants and seeds. An Official Statistical System was established in India by Col . Sykes during 1847 with a Department of Statistics in India House. The first Census Report of India was published in 1848. The second Census Report was published in 1881 and since then Census was conducted every 10 years.


2. Post-Independence Indian Official Statistical System

After Independence, the need for a statistical system for monitoring socio-economic development of the country was felt by the Government of India. In 1949, Shri.P.C.Mahalanobis was appointed by the Government of India as the Honorary Statistical Advisor to the government. In the same year, he established the Central Statistical Unit. This Unit was renamed, in 1951, as Central Statistical Organization, which coordinated various statistical activities in the country. It also defined and maintained statistical standards in the country.

During the same period, National Income Committee was established in 1949 to estimate the National Income of the country. The Committee recommended the use of sampling methods for collecting information in order to fill the large gaps in the statistical information required for estimation of the National Income. Sample surveys were conducted at national level for this purpose. The first round of National Sample Survey was conducted in October 1950. Later, a separate organization under the government set-up for conducting sample surveys was formed in the name of National Sample Survey Organization.

The Central Statistical Organization and National Sample Survey Organization are now called respectively as Central Statistics Office (CSO) and National Sample Survey Office (NSSO).

The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoS&PI), a ministry with independent charge in the Government of India, was formed on October 15, 1999 with two wings, viz., National Statistical Office (NSO) and Programme Implementation.

The Government of India set up a Commission in the year 2000 under the headship of Shri.C.Rangarajan to address the growing statistical needs of the country. Based on the recommendations of the Commission, a permanent and statutory apex body, called National Statistical Commission (NSC), was set up in NSO on July 12, 2006. The NSC was formed to evolve policies, priorities and to maintain quality standards in statistical matters.

The NSC is constituted with an eminent statistician or a social- scientist as its Chairperson and four members - one each from the areas of Economic Statistics; Social and Environmental Statistics; Census Operations, Surveys and Statistical Information System; and National Accounts. The Chief Statistician of India is the Secretary of the Commission and the Chief Executive Officer of NITI Aayog of Planning Commission of India is an ex- officio member of NSC. The Chief Statistician of India is the Head of National Statistical Office and Secretary of the MoS&PI. NSC, in addition to the above responsibilities, also performs the functions of Governing Council of the NSSO since August 30, 2006.

Presently, the main sections of NSO are NSC, CSO, NSSO and a Computer Center.

1. Central Statistics Office

The Central Statistics Office is responsible for coordination of statistical activities in the country, and evolving and maintaining statistical standards. CSO is headed by a Director General, who is assisted by five Additional Director Generals. The CSO has five main divisions. The divisions and their responsibilities are presented below:

(i) National Accounts Division

This division is responsible for

·              preparation of national accounts including Gross Domestic Product

·              preparation of quarterly estimates of Gross Domestic Product

·              estimation of Capital Stock and Consumption of fixed capital

·              estimation of State-wise Gross Value Added and Gross Fixed Capital Formation

·              preparation of Input-Output Transaction Tables, and

·              preparation of comparable estimates of State Domestic Product.

(ii) Social Statistics Division

This division is responsible for

·              statistical monitoring of the Millennium Development goals

·              preparation and maintaining environmental economic accounting

·              grant-in-aid for research, workshop/seminars/conferences in Official/Applied Statistics

·              national/international awards for statisticians

·              preparation of National Data Bank on socio-religious categories

·              basic statistics for Local Level Development Pilot scheme

·              conduct of time-use surveys and release of regular and ad hoc publications. 

(iii) Economic Statistics Division

This division is responsible for

·              conducting Economic Census and Annual Survey of Industries

·              compiling All India Index of Industrial Production

·              collecting and compiling Energy Statistics and Infrastructure Statistics

·              developing classifications like, National Industrial Classification and National Product Classification.

(iv) Training Division

This division is responsible for

·              training manpower in theoretical and applied statistics to deal with the challenges of data collection, compilation, analysis and dissemination of information for policy making, planning, monitoring and evaluation

·              looking after the National Statistical Systems Training Academy, which is a premier institute for developing human resource to deal with Official Statistics in India as well as at international level.

(v) Coordination and Publications Division

This division is responsible for

·              coordinating the works related to statistical matters within CSO and the Ministries of Central Government and State/UT Governments

·              organizing Conferences of Central and State Statistical Organizations

·              celebration of National Statistics Day every year

·              preparation of Results Framework Document, Citizens’ Charter, Annual Action Plan and Outcome Budget of the MoS&PI

·              implementation of Capacity Development Scheme and Support for Statistical Strengthening with an aim of improving the Capacity and Infrastructure of the State Statistical System for collection, compilation and dissemination of reliable Official Statistics for policy making

·              coordinating implementation of recommendations of NSC

·              administrative works related to Indian Statistical Institute.

2. National Sample Survey Office

National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), headed by a Director General, is responsible for conduct of national level large scale sample surveys in diverse fields. Primarily, data are collected through nation-wide household surveys on various socio-economic subjects. Besides these surveys, NSSO collects data on rural and urban prices and plays a significant role in the improvement of crop statistics through monitoring the area enumeration and crop estimation surveys of the State agencies. It also maintains a sampling frame of urban area units for conducting sample surveys in urban areas.

NSSO has four divisions. The divisions and their responsibilities are listed below:

(i) Survey Design and Research Division

This division, located at Kolkata, is responsible for

·              technical planning of surveys

·              formulation of concepts and definitions

·              preparation of sampling design

·              designing of inquiry schedules

·              drawing up of tabulation plan

·              analysing and presenting survey results.

(ii) Field Operations Division

The headquarters of this division is at Delhi. This division has a network of 6 Zonal Offices, 49 Regional Offices and 118 Sub-Regional Offices spread throughout the country. This division is responsible for collection of primary data for the surveys undertaken by NSSO.

(iii) Data Processing Division

The Division, with its headquarters at Kolkata and 6 Data Processing Centers at various places, is responsible for

·              selection of sample subjects

·              developing relevant software

·              processing, validation and tabulation of the data collected through surveys.

(iv) Coordination and Publications Division

This Division, located at New Delhi, is responsible for

·              coordinating all the activities of different Divisions of NSSO

·              publishing the bi-annual journal of NSSO, titled “Sarvekshana”

·              organizing National Seminars on the results of various socio-economic surveys undertaken by NSSO.


3. Present Statistical System in India

In addition to the role played by CSO and NSSO, most of the Central Ministries collect statistical information on the subjects related to the respective ministries. The statistical information are collected as by-products of administration of the ministries or for monitoring the progress of specific programmes implemented by the respective ministries. Some Ministries in Government of India, like Agriculture, Water Resources, Health, Finance, Commerce, Labour, and Industrial Development have separate statistical divisions, while most others have nucleus cells.

The Statistical System in the States is similar to the system at the Central Government. A Directorate of Economics and Statistics, functioning in each State under a decentralized system, is a nodal agency, which is responsible for the coordination of statistical activities in the State. The Directorates have statistical offices at the headquarters in each district. The district level offices collect statistical information related to all sections of economy of the respective district. The Directorates compile and publish such information as Statistical Hand Books every year. The Hand Books contain several information including estimates of area, production and yield of principal crops. In Tamil Nadu, the Directorate is functioning with the nomenclature “Department of Economics and Statistics”. This department, with headquarters at Chennai, is headed by a Commissioner, who is assisted by a Director, 3 Additional Directors and 2 Joint Directors, in addition to Assistant Directors and supportive officials.

Generally, flow of statistical information in Indian Statistical System is upwards from village → block → district → State Government Departments → corresponding Ministries at the Centre.

In addition to CSO, NSSO and the Ministries, there are other public and private organizations in India, which also deal with collection of Official Statistics on various characteristics. Reserve Bank of India is one such organization, which collects, compiles and publishes, every year, the statistical information related to economy of the country as the “Hand Book of Indian Economy”.

National Statistics Day and World Statistics Day

The Government of India declared 29th June, the birthday of Prof. P.C. Mahalanobis, as the National Statistics Day to honour his contribution to the establishment of Official Statistical System in India. As a part of the celebration of this day, essay writing competitions are conducted nationwide among postgraduate students of Statistics. The winners are honoured with awards during the celebration at New Delhi. The first National Statistics Day was celebrated on June 29, 2007.

United Nations Statistical Commission declared October 20 as the World Statistics Day. It is celebrated every five years in almost all the countries focussing on specific theme. The first World Statistics Day was celebrated all over the world on October 20, 2010. The second World Statistics Day was celebrated on October 20, 2015 on the theme Better Data, Better Lives to emphasize the important role of high quality official statistical information in decision-making.

All the government departments, educational departments and others dealing with Statistics take part in celebration of National Statistics Day as well as World Statistics Day.

The year 2013 was observed as the International Year of Statistics.

The State and Central Governments recruit professionals, who are trained in applications of statistical methods, for appointment as Statistical Investigators, Assistant Directors. Most of the statisticians in CSO, NSSO and in ministries now qualify Indian Statistical Service (ISS) examination conducted by Union Public Service Commission. They are trained by the National Statistical Systems Training Academy. 

The first Economic Census was conducted in 1977. 

The Second Five Year Plan of India followed the model developed by Prof. P.C. Mahalanobis, which focused on public sector development and rapid industrialization. The Government of India honoured him with one of the highest civilian awards Padma Vibhushan. The Government of India released a stamp on June 29, 1993 in commemoration of his 100th birthday. Recently, the Government of India released a commemorative coin on June 29, 2018 during the celebration of his 125th birthday.

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