No Regret On Quitting NSC Job, But Worries NITI Aayog's Interference, Says Former Statistics Chief
In an unexpected turn of events PC Mohanan, who is an independent member and an acting chairman of the National Statistical Commission (NSC) resigned on January 28, 2019. NSC is a government-funded advisory body that checks the quality of India’s official data. The reason behind Mohanan’s resignation is the delay in releasing the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) survey report on employment. The report was supposed to be released in December 2018, reported the Reuters. Along with him, another member of NSC, J. Meenakshi quit the organisation stating the same reason.
Why is the figure crucial for Modi Govt
Three days after his resignation, those jobs figure which was on hold were leaked to the Business Standard Newspaper. The article carrying the figures stated that India’s unemployment rate in the year ending 2018 shot up to 6.1 %. This is the highest rate of unemployment in the last 45 years. It will not be wrong to say that these miserable figures are likely to slam the Modi led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who is all set for entering into the General Election that is likely to happen in May of this year.
In support of the Modi government, NITI Aayog, a government think tank has dismissed the job numbers reported by the Business Standard. They said that the report was not complete and was still in “draft”. They also stated that more quarterly data was required to publish a “comparable” jobs report.
What worries Mohanan?
Mohanan expressed is concerns on how NITI Aayog is involved in releasing the figures. He said that NSC is supposed to be the final authority on statistics before they were published. However, the organisation had been repeatedly sidelined by the government in recent months, and the delay in jobs figure was the final straw. In an interview to Reuters, he said data should be released as per the calendar, whether it is to your liking or not liking. He further said if an organisation failed to do so then where is the credibility in the system?
On being enquired if the commission sanctity being affected by interference, Mr Mohanan said to NDTV, “There has been a link that the statistics should be independent of the government. It should be published impartially and there are certain fundamental principles of official statistics which the government has also notified in 2016, and that very clearly says statistics should be totally independent. This commission ensured that this was maintained. It is a very important issue for the commission that autonomy of the stats system is maintained and that alone can bring credibility to our statistics. Credibility is very important. NITI Aayog getting involved is not a very desirable thing.”
Mohanan further said that he has no regrets for quitting his job and is ready to settle into retirement in the village