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Data And Public Policy Making In India: Promises And Perils – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

Data and public policy making in India Promises and Perils e1711126105714

Session Report
Reetwika Mallcik

The Centre for the Study of Finance and Economics (CSFE), at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi conducted a One-Month Online National Spring School Program on ‘Fundamentals of Public Policy- Cohort 2.0’ from March 1st, 2024 to March 30th 2024.

The course, spread over one month, provided a unique opportunity to gain in-depth insight into public policy. The course led by esteemed experts, empowered the participants to expand their thinking and enhance their understanding of public policy, to be able to make formidable contributions to policy-making. Through a combination of engaging lectures, interactive workshops, networking, guidance by thematic experts and practical exercises.

Day 2 of the ‘Fundamentals of Public Policy- Cohort 2.0’, Dr Soumyadip Chattopadhyay, Visiting Senior Fellow, IMPRI; Associate Professor, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan commenced the session outlining the huge surge in data accumulation and its influence on public policy making with special emphasis on the Indian city level experiences on data driven policy formulation.

Characteristics and Quality of Data-

Dr. Chattopadhyay identified five important characteristics that can be attributed to data. The first characteristic, according to Dr. Chattopadhyay, is the ‘volume’ which accounts for the number of data that is being produced. The real-time streaming of data at constant rate constitutes the velocity of data as explained by Dr. Chattopadhyay in the session. The third characteristics of data identifies the trustworthiness of produced data, i.e. veracity of data. Dr. Chattopadhyay enumerated the fourth characteristic of data as variety of data.

Data, according to Dr. Chattopadhyay can be classified as structured and unstructured and depending on the variety of data that is being dealt with, Dr. Chattopadhyay highlighted the possible techniques that can be used for analysing the respective data. The final characteristic of data, Dr. Chattopadhyay discussed as the value data, i.e. data providing insights to drive growth and impact on society.

Moving forward in the session, Dr. Chattopadhyay explained the necessity of determining the quality of available data in making policy decision. Dr. Chattopadhyay explained the five attributes of studying data quality.

The first attribute, accuracy aids in establishing the acceptance of the data for future analysis of an issue. Completeness of data, the second attribute through which quality of data can be assessed, helps in calculating the comprehensiveness of the data acquired. Dr. Chattopadhyay highlighted consistency as the third attribute which ensures uniformity of data generated, Whether the data is relevant for analysis comprises the fourth quality of data. According to Dr. Chattopadhyay, timeliness of data, i.e. access to latest available data and analysis of them in real time encompasses the fifth attribute of verifying data quality.

Data and Its Role in Public Policy Making-

Dr. Chattopadhyay explained broadly public policy as a set of actions that affect the solution of a policy problem and capacity to create public value. Dr. Chattopadhyay discussed in length the characteristics of public policy.  The characteristics of public policy to create capacity to provide personalised services and involvement of final users in the process of designing and producing policies enhances the need for data in public policy making.

Dr. Chattopadhyay elucidated with an example of ways of improving school system, how evidence-based policy making brings desired outcome. Dr. Chattopadhyay stated in the session, that with better data accumulation, analysis and dispersion, accountability of the service provider also increases. Data also aids in reducing the targeting errors of welfare scheme. Data also provides a lot of scope for product innovation, Dr. Chattopadhyay delineated using the example of E-NAM, a government step to integrate farm market across the country.

Shortcomings of Data-

Dr. Chattopadhyay explained data collection occurs at four levels by the Government- at administrative level, survey level, transactional level and institutional level. Data collection is highly decentralised in Inda, Dr. Chattopadhyay elucidated. Lack of unification of data hinders in creating useful policy insights, explained Dr. Chattopadhyay.

Dr. Chattopadhyay giving the example of Smart cities framework of government of India portrayed the possible loopholes in using data for policy decisions. Multiple vendors for analysing data, lack of synergy between local and state government, lack of technical capacity and resources at the municipal level, etc. creates obstacles in data analysis, Dr. Chattopadhyay discussed. In order to address the issues, Dr. Chattopadhyay explained the features of adopting an integrated data system.

Concluding the session, Dr. Chattopadhyay re-iterated, that since data is being generated by the people and of the people, therefore it should be used for the people.

Acknowledgement: This article was published by Reetwika Mallick, a research intern at IMPRI.

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