In a recent article published in Ideas for India, Florian Blum and Rohini Pande discuss the political economy of data collection.
They state that while India is a notable exception among developing countries when it comes to collecting and releasing data about its poor, it does not measure investments in human capital made by its population in order to escape poverty. In the years immediately after independence, the National Sample Survey Organisation was established without much opposition, but today there is greater reluctance by officials to invest in data collection that could feed into designing reforms. Further, whatever data that is collected,is not automatically put in the public domain and one needs to use the Right to Information route to access such information. One reason for this underinvestment and limited public access, according to Blum and Pande, is the fear that providing access may backfire when researchers analyze various government schemes and programmes and find them flawed.
Blum and Pande further state that, "The political economy of data production responds to external as well as internal pressures. ... the UN should not just announce the SDGs but create clear mechanisms to recognise and reward countries that institute robust infrastructure for public release of relevant administrative data. Countries such as Denmark that use their statistics agencies as clearinghouses should be lauded, while others that use theirs as censors should be shamed."
Read the full article here.