IIP data bungling: India's chief statistician explains
T C A Anant secretary in the ministry of statistics and programme implementation (Mospi) and the government's chief statistician, talks to Indivjal Dhasmana on the bungling in announcing the April industrial figures. Edited excerpts:
In March 2012, sugar output numbers were miscalculated, as the directorate of sugar gave three months figures and Mospi took it as a one-month figure. What happened this time?
There was an error in recording the numbers given by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) for electricity generation. These were taken from a CEA website. Instead of final numbers, provisional numbers were recorded. Hence, there was a miscalculation.
Can't there be a foolproof mechanism so that these kinds of errors do not recur?
It is human error, which cannot be completely avoided in complex data like the Index of Industrial Production (IIP). Yes, we have a system of cross-checking. The issue here, however, was that when core sector data come, provisional numbers for electricity are used and the final numbers are used in IIP data. It was basically a human error in recording the numbers.
Today, the revision on IIP data was done twice. First, the growth was revised to 2.2 per cent and then to 2.3 per cent.
There was a lot of pressure in sending out releases. Under pressure, this happened.
You had earlier talked of coming out with a web portal to minimise these kinds of errors.
The Saumitra Chaudhuri committee is looking at all kinds of issues on the IIP. It will look at this issue as well.
However, the proposed web portal will cover principally manufacturing. Whether data on electricity generation could also come on the portal is yet to be seen. Electricity data are updated on the CEA site.
Image: T.C.A. Anant.
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters