1.1.1 The Indian Statistical System is rooted in historical tradition. In the pre-independence era, the system was limited to the needs of colonial rulers and did not develop into an integrated or well-coordinated system. When however, India achieved her independence in 1947, the necessity for creating a strong statistical base for economic planning was keenly felt by the planners and policy makers. The National Income Committee (1949) appointed by the Government of India noticed several large gaps in the statistical database of the country and recommended measures to bring improvements in the system of data collection. The need for creating a sound statistical system, led to the establishment of the Central Statistical Unit (1949) – later converted into the Central Statistical Organisation (1951) – and the Directorate of the National Sample Survey (1950), the Computer Centre (1967) and the National Sample Survey Organisation (1970).
1.1.2 The Indian Statistical System endeavours to capture a wide variety of data of a very large and decentralised economy. Despite the System’s impressive and commendable achievements in the past, there is a growing concern regarding the quality of the data presently being made available by it. The operational efficiency of the Indian Statistical System today is compromised by serious deficiencies with respect to credibility, timeliness and adequacy. Some of the deficiencies that could have been ignored in the earlier period of a highly controlled regime can no longer be done, now that the country has moved to a more liberalised economy. The State-private sector mix is undergoing a change. The country is getting integrated more closely with the rest of the world. The composition of national output is changing more in favour of services. These changes have important implications for the collection and dissemination of data. Also data requirements for decision-making have expanded. Revisions of data on such crucial variables such as national income and agricultural production have raised questions among the data users about the adequacy of the data collection system. On one side there is a growing statistical requirement in view of the expanding economy and on the other side there is over dependence of the statistical system on the administrative set up and traditional records. Further, in view of the decentralised nature of the statistical system prevailing in the country, the Government has been feeling that a strong coordinating mechanism to generate adequate data of high quality with the desired timeliness is the need of the hour and a critical examination of the deficiencies of the present statistical system with a view to suggesting remedial action is urgently called for. Realising the growing statistical needs of the Society and to make sure that these get appropriately addressed, the Government of India set up the National Statistical Commission, the first of its kind, through Resolution No. M/13011/3/99-Admn. IV dated 19th January 2000 of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (see Annexe 1.1). Dr. C. Rangarajan, Honourable Governor of Andhra Pradesh was appointed as the part-time Chairman of the Commission along with eleven eminent statisticians and economists as its part-time members