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National Sample Surveys, Economic Census & Other Data to be Available Online for Free #DigitalIndia

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National Sample Survey Online

The Indian government’s small steps are taking India towards digitalization at a good pace. With another move today, the government is cutting down the rates it previously charged for national sample surveys, annual survey of industries and the economic census.

The applicants who filed for queries with the government, always had to pay a nominal fee, which would indeed get taxing for those from lower economic strata. Even to simply file an RTI, one cannot get through without passing a payment gateway.

To ramp up this whole system, a change in the working was needed, and we’re glad that the Modi government is bringing it up. With the data becoming accessible for free, one can file various applications without having to be bothered of its weight on the pocket.

Data being available freely on the website will bring in more transparency in the working of the system too, however, the ministry of statistics and programme implementation is in the process of drafting an agenda note in which it has differentiated between data that can and cannot be shared on its website, officials said.

So we’re yet to know how would they go about categorizing and segregating data into what’s sharable and what’s not. At present, the government charges fees for providing data from the national sample surveys, Annual Survey of Industries and the economic census. This goes against the spirit of the open data policy, officials said.

Interestingly, the government makes a Rs.7 crore a year from the fees for giving out data. In this new scheme, the statistics ministry may not share worksheets of calculations and estimates. The explanation they have for this: “We identify units with the help of geospatial data which is many a time sensitive from security point of view,” the official said.

How can we be assured of this system to be purely transparent when they would make data ‘selectively available’ and cut out whatever they don’t want to come into public eye.

“We want every ministry to have a negative list wherein they specify the kind of data that they don’t want to share because of its strategic importance and confidentiality,” said an official privy to the development. Under the name of confidentiality, we cannot be sure of what’s hidden for under other names like corruption.

Though the data is being available for free, they aren’t yet freeing themselves from clutches of corruption.

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