Download Learnerz IAS app from the Play Store now! Download



Data Suppression UPSC NOTE


Past instances of data suppression

  • There have been instances in the past when the axe came down on some periodic publications of India’s national data agencies. 

  • Thus, the Consumer Expenditure Survey for 2017-18 conducted by the National Sample Survey Office was shelved. 

  • The official reason given was that it was methodologically flawed.

  • It has been suggested based on leaked information, that the final report was suppressed as it showed a decline in aggregate consumption.

  • At the time, leading commentators argued that this would be an anomaly in a growing economy, implying that there was good reason to have withheld the publication of the report. 

  • The argument is flawed, though, for a decline in total consumption can occur even in a growing economy when the income distribution shifts towards the rich.

  • Then, there was the Periodic Labour Force Survey for 2017-18, which was ready for release in early 2019 but was published only after the parliamentary elections held that May. 

  • It is believed that the government delayed the release as the report showed unemployment to be at a 45-year high in 2017-18. 

  • The recorded rise in unemployment is not surprising as growth of production in the non-agricultural private sector slowed considerably following the demonetisation.

Specific findings from NFHS-5

  • The media report has pointed to two findings in National Family Health Survey NFHS-5 that may have caused discomfiture to the government. 

  • The first is that the level of anaemia has risen across all sections of the population, quite alarmingly among children.

  • The levels recorded are indeed disturbing, with over half of India’s women in the age group 15-49 years reportedly anaemic. 

  • This does not sit well with the idea of an economy poised to be the third largest in the world in a matter of years, which the government takes credit for.

  • But is the finding itself implausible? The survey for NFHS-5 was conducted over 2019-21. 

  • There was a marked increase in food-price inflation during this period.

  • While it may have declined since, it stayed high by historical standards for the next 24 months.

  • Anaemia is partly related to food intake. 

  • It is possible that the higher price of food during the period of the survey contributed to anemia rise. 

  • In addition to the higher inflation, income had contracted during 2020-21 due to COVID-19.

  • A second finding reported in NFHS-5 shows that India has some way to go before it can be declared ‘open defecation free’ with any confidence. 

  • While NFHS-5 shows a substantial rise in the percentage of households using an “improved sanitation facility” since 2015-16, the figure falls short of 100% by about a fifth. 

  • Again, is this implausible? The figures for open defecation reported for 2005-06, 2015-16 and 2019-21 are 55%, 39% and 19%, respectively.

  • Compared to the reduction during the first period that achieved in the second one is actually quite impressive. 

  • Indeed, given the magnitude of the backlog in 2015-16 and that ending open defecation requires behavioural change among the population, it is not obvious that a superior outcome could have been achieved, whatever may have been the government’s aspiration.

  • Perhaps it is to flag that the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has not failed.

  • After all, that when reporting the percentage of households using an improved sanitation facility the NFHS-5 report adds the warning: “This indicator does not denote access to toilet facility.” Such an entry is absent in earlier reports.

Impact of suppression

  • Surveillance of the nation’s data agencies would have damaging consequences. 

  • First, it introduces an incentive to not reveal outcomes that are likely to be frowned upon by the government of the day. This can jeopardise public policy interventions. 

  • Imagine there is an ongoing epidemic. If deaths are deliberately under-reported it could cause complacency in the population, encouraging a risky behaviour that spreads contagion.

  • Then there is the feature that elections are the means by which the nation chooses the political party they entrust with governance. 

  • For the exercise to be credible, citizens must have access to accurate and timely data. 

  • Now, national data agencies left to function without fear or favour become vital to a democracy.



Amritsar,1,April 2024,301,Art & Culture,1,August 2023,251,Courses,7,Daily Current Affairs,48,December 2023,189,Disaster Management,2,Environment and Ecology,184,February 2024,228,Foundation Course,1,GDP,1,GEMS Club,1,GEMS Plus,1,Geography,188,Govt Schemes,2,GS 2,1,GS1,6,GS2,61,GS3,23,GST,1,History,10,Home,3,IAS Booklist,1,Important News,71,Indian Economy,164,Indian History,8,Indian Polity,183,International Organisation,12,International Relations,140,Invasive Plant,1,January 2024,240,July 2023,281,July 2024,159,June 2022,6,June 2023,268,June 2024,324,March 2024,238,May 2022,17,May 2024,330,Mentorship,2,November 2023,169,October 2023,203,Places in News,2,Science & Technology,121,Science and Technology,93,September 2023,205,UPSC CSE,111,
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Data Suppression UPSC NOTE
Data Suppression UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
Loaded All Posts Not found any posts VIEW ALL Readmore Reply Cancel reply Delete By Home PAGES POSTS View All RECOMMENDED FOR YOU LABEL ARCHIVE SEARCH ALL POSTS Not found any post match with your request Back Home Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat January February March April May June July August September October November December Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec just now 1 minute ago $$1$$ minutes ago 1 hour ago $$1$$ hours ago Yesterday $$1$$ days ago $$1$$ weeks ago more than 5 weeks ago Followers Follow THIS PREMIUM CONTENT IS LOCKED STEP 1: Share to a social network STEP 2: Click the link on your social network Copy All Code Select All Code All codes were copied to your clipboard Can not copy the codes / texts, please press [CTRL]+[C] (or CMD+C with Mac) to copy Table of Content