Official statistics is important in revealing the various dimensions about the socio-economic features and performance of the economy. In India, for the administration of the official statistics and related activities, there is the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI).
The MOSPI has two important wings – the Central Statistical Office (CSO) and the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO).
Central Statistical Office engages mainly with national income data, industrial production data, price index data etc. On the other hand, the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) is doing tremendous work related to primary data collection and analysis through various NSSO rounds covering large number of socio-economic factors.
Still, a Committee under C Rangarajan (2001) that reviewed the official statistical system in the country observed that a coordinating body is needed to facilitate official statistics in India.
Why the National Statistical Commission was needed?
Rengarajan Committee advocated the creation of an empowered body to coordination of official statistical and recommended the setting up of a permanent National Commission on Statistics.
For this purpose, the National Statistical Commission (NSC) was created by the government as an autonomous body on 12th July 2006 through a resolution.
The Commission has to function as a nodal agency for core statistical activities including monitoring and enforcement statistical priorities and setting standards and to ensure statistical co-ordination among the different agencies involved.
Composition of National Statistical Commission
As on March 2019, the NSC has five members including a Chairperson and four Members (seats are vacant).
Besides these five members, there is a Secretary and an ex-officio Member in the NSC. The Chief Statistician of India is the Secretary of the Commission. He is also the Secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. The CEO of the NITI Ayog is an ex-officio member of the NSC at present.
As on March 2019, Shri.Pravin Srivastava, Chief Statistician of India & Secretary, MOSPI is the Secretary to the NSC whereas Shri Amitabh Kant, CEO NITI Aayog is the Ex-Officio Member.
Functions of National Statistical Commission
Following are the major functions of the Nationals Statistics Commissions.
- to identify the core statistics, which are of national importance and are critical to the development of the economy;
- to constitute professional committees or working groups to assist the Commission on various technical issues;
- to evolve national policies and priorities relating to the statistical system;
- to evolve standard statistical concepts, definitions, classifications and methodologies in different areas in statistics and lay down national quality standards on core statistics;
- to evolve national strategies for the collection, tabulation and dissemination of core statistics, including the release calendar for various data sets;
- to evolve national strategies for human resource development on official statistics including information technology and communication needs of the statistical system;
- to evolve measures for improving public trust in official statistics;
- to evolve measures for effective co-ordination with State Governments and Union Territory Administrations on statistical activities including strengthening of existing institutional mechanisms;
- to exercise statistical co-ordination between Ministries, Departments and other agencies of the Central Government;
- to recommend to the Central Government, or any State Government, as the case may be, measures to effectively implement the standards, strategies and other measures.
- to advise the Government on the requirement of legislative measures on statistical matters including the statute for the National Statistical Commission; and
- to monitor and review the functioning of the statistical system in the light of the laid down policies, standards and methodologies and recommend measures for enhanced performance.
Functions related to the working of the NSSO
Besides the above functions, all functions of the Governing Council of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) were entrusted to the NSC with effect from August 2006. The functions mainly relate to overseeing the conduct of National Sample Surveys (NSS) on various socioeconomic subjects through the NSSO and the State Directorate of Economics and Statistics (in the form of rounds).
From the 68th NSS Round onwards, the NSC has constituted Working Groups on various subjects, for assisting the NSC, in overseeing the entire area of survey activities for each round.