14.3 Major Recommendations Of The Expert Committee To Review The Functioning Of The NSSO And Important Views/comments Received On These Recommendations
14.3 Major Recommendations of the Expert Committee to Review the Functioning of the NSSO and important views/comments received on these recommendations
The major recommendations of the Expert Committee are as under :
NSSO to have total responsibility for primary data collection
It is mentioned that under continuing globalization and liberalization of the Indian economy, and to meet international Special Data Dissemination Standards, the Government of India would need reliable and timely statistical information on a much larger scale than before. And, for this, the NSSO having requisite technical capability and experience should take up the total responsibility for collection of all the required primary data through large-scale sample surveys – including the work of design, data processing and publication.
Annual program of the NSSO
The Expert Committee has recommended annual program for the NSSO having three components viz. Standard Annual Program, Special Program and Methodological Studies. It is recommended to allocate resources to the three components in a fixed proportion, say, 60: 25: 15.
Under Standard Annual Program, it is recommended that surveys should be conducted every year on Consumer Expenditure, Employment-Unemployment, Enterprises (organized manufacture, unorganized manufacture, informal sector), Prices, Agriculture (area under crops, crop yield – forecast and post-harvest), Sampling Frame Surveys (urban blocks, large villages) and Register of Large Enterprises (one-time benchmark survey and annual revision).
Under Special Program, surveys at larger intervals on other important topics are recommended. Some suggested topics are: (i) Housing, Slum, Disability, Aged persons, Landholding, Debt and Investment, Social consumption, tribal society, Jhum cultivation, Gender discrimination, Surface transport, etc. – once in ten years; (ii) Environmental pollution, Literacy, Tourism, etc. – once in five years; and (iii) Natural calamity, Other disasters, Surveys for legislative purposes, etc. – at short notice.
In addition, regular Methodological Studies on topics like Sampling Design, Estimation Procedures, Survey practice and Data processing are suggested to resolve practical problems that arise in conducting large-scale sample surveys in India.
To cope up with the massive increase in the work program, radical improvements in the traditional working system of the organisation are recommended. The important recommendations in this regard are listed below. The Expert Committee has suggested that the recommendations must be introduced in a planned manner after careful trials on a pilot scale.
Revival of scientific spirit – Placement of a senior officer, with inclination for applied research, in charge of the SDRD; Creation of an adequately staffed Methodological Studies Unit in the SDRD; Converting the NSSO journal Sarvekshana into a journal of survey research under an independent editorial board; Organising regular seminars on theoretical and applied problems; Establishing close association with professional bodies of statisticians; and Examining pros and cons of formalizing the NSSO/ DOS as a scientific department are recommended.
Restructuring the GC – It is recommended that a body of fifteen survey professionals – including the Chairman and the Member-Secretary – would constitute the Governing Council (GC). The Chairman would be a non-official and an applied statistician of international repute. He would have a five-year term and the other members a shorter term. The DG & CEO, NSSO would be the Member-Secretary of the GC. The composition of the other thirteen members is recommended as: two from the ISI; Two university professors; One each deputed by the RGI and RBI; One survey statistician from socio-economic research organizations; One from a private sector organization specializing in opinion surveys or market research; One from IT organization; Two from State DESs; and Two nominees of the DOS.
Data Users’ Forum – A group representing the users – the Planning Commission, CSO, different Central Ministries, State planning Bodies, Academic users and Chambers of Commerce, etc. – would be associated with the GC, would recommend topics of survey under the Special Program and would also offer constructive criticism of survey results.
Technical Working Group – The GC should set up a Working Group (WG) for each survey. The WG would be associated with every phase of the survey.
Board of Referees – Appointing a small Board of Referees with say three members by the GC for critical examination of each draft survey report is suggested.
Concentrating on National Level Statistics – In order to achieve the target set for the NSSO, it is recommended that the NSSO should concentrate on providing reliable and regular time series data on important variables for the country as a whole. State level information obtained as a by-product should be passed to the concerned States. NSSO should provide technical assistance to the States to increase their capability.
Setting up new Data Preparation Centres (DPCs) – In view of large increase in the volume of data, creation of additional DPCs at places like Guwahati, Lucknow, Bhopal, Jaipur, Hyderabad and Chennai is recommended.
Setting up NSSO Directorates at State Capitals – For liaison with the State Goverrnments and control of regional offices (ROs) within the State, it is recommended to set up NSSO Directorates in all the State Headquarters through upgradation of present ROs. The NSSO Directorates would also organize public relation campaigns about the activities of the NSSO and disseminate data and results of the NSS. In due course, the DPCs are proposed to be set up at NSSO Directorates.
Executive powers of the DG & CEO – It is recommended that the DG & CEO be given the ex-officio position of a Special Secretary of the Government of India.
Setting up of Functional Units – For efficiently handling various activities, the Expert Committee has recommended setting up ten functional units within the Headquarters of the three Divisions of the NSSO: four under the SDRD (Methodological Studies Unit, Sampling Design Unit, Schedule Design and Data Analysis Unit – one each for Household Surveys and Non-Household Surveys), two under the DPD (Research and Development Unit, Processing Unit) and four under the FOD (Household Surveys, Non-Household Surveys, Agricultural Surveys, Training).
Organisational structure – The recommendation envisages the following:
Additional DG to head each of the SDRD, FOD and DPD
DDG to head each of CPD, 10 Functional Units of the Divisions under (i) and Zonal Offices of the FOD
Director level officer to head each State Directorate of NSSO
Deputy Director to head each Regional Office
Assistant Director to head each Sub-Regional Office
Other recommendations – Many other recommendations are given by the Expert Committee for improving the functioning of the NSSO. These are on (i) Reducing complexity and length of schedules of enquiry, (ii) Adoption of only one proper reference period for each item in the NSS, (iii) Measures to be taken for improving Sampling Design, (iv) Instituting quality control measures to ensure errors below a tolerable margin, (v) Modernization of data processing system, (vi) Strengthening the activities of the Sub-Regional Offices of the NSSO, (vii) Expanded use of IT, (viii) HRD aspect, (ix) Reorganization of internal divisional structure of the NSSO, (x) Need for publicity campaigns about the activities of the NSSO, (xi) Use of palm-top/ lap-top computers for collection of data, and (xii) Constitution of a Subordinate Statistical Service.
On (xi) above, it is recommended that palm-top computers already purchased should be used only in surveys where the schedule of enquiry is short and simple, for example – price surveys, monthly survey of industrial production, etc. Regarding use of laptop computers, the Expert Committee feels that they may be tried on an exploratory basis, after development of appropriate software.
As regards (xii), it is recommended that all field staff in the FOD and subordinate technical staff in the DPD and SDRD – other than those involved solely in routine data entry or computer operations – should be brought under the Subordinate Statistical Service in an appropriate manner. The Expert Committee is not in favour of creating an EDP service in the NSSO.
Important views/ comments on the recommendations
A large number of comments/ views have been received on various recommendations of the Expert Committee. These are summarized below.
The need has been felt for:
Representation of demographers, sociologists, subject matter specialists and more experts from outside as well as from the Government in the re-constituted GC
Maintaining the autonomy of the GC; Specifying clearly the extent of autonomy given to the GC; Taking a clear view on the autonomy of the GC and its financial powers
Appointing the Working Group in each NSS round
Associating sample survey experts, subject matter specialists, behavioural scientists and data processing experts in the Working Groups constituted by the GC
Increasing number of posts in the NSSO in a gradual manner and not abruptly (view not agreed upon by the DDG, FOD)
State and Regional level (for bigger States) estimates from the NSS
Regular methodological studies and rationalization of the schedule
Quarterly estimates of certain broad parameters relating to non-agricultural enterprises
Giving a careful thought to the recommendation on taking over all survey work of the MoS&PI by the NSSO, as the present system is functioning well.
The Committee’s recommendation that the NSSO give up the pooling of central and State samples will stop mutual checks on NSS results, prevent building of firmer estimates at the State level and do away with the fail-safe arrangement it provides. The NSSO should in fact take a pro-active role in the matter.
The expansion of the NSSO to meet SDDS requirements is not justified, since yearly consumption expenditure surveys and quarterly employment-unemployment surveys, as recommended by the Expert Committee, are not required to meet SDDS requirements. In fact, launching of such surveys depends upon whether NAD requires them.
Considerable groundwork will need to be done before it is decided that NSS should be entrusted with the work of monitoring socio-economic changes. In fact, key variables should be identified, and how the different organs of the decentralized Indian Statistical System (ISS) will collect the data needs be decided.
The National Sample Surveys should be complementary to rest of Indian Statistical System and they should deal with subjects that do not belong to any sub-system, or that cover more than one sub-system.
Up gradation of senior level posts and creation of Director level ISS posts in State Capitals is not justified. Up gradation of posts must keep parity with CSO posts and all these matters cannot be decided in isolation for the NSSO.
The GC might take a decision on all other recommendations involving technical matters including those having financial implications.
It is useful to create Data users’ forum and Technical Working Groups.
Setting up of new Data Processing Centres would depend upon actual expansion.
Creation of State Directorates of NSSO is not justified.