India’s Unreliable Statistics

Where’s Waldo? Photo by Ranjith Shenoyr

Indian statistics are under fire. Really, what can you say about India with any accuracy. It’s a billion people, 400+ languages, countless dialects, innumerable races, [adjective here] races, many, many, uh, things. You can’t even appeal to the gods for help cause there’s 330 million of them.

Now the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is saying that government stats are unreliable and they can’t work with them. Here are some examples of dodgy figures.


in February 2010, the advance estimate for GDP growth for 2009-10 was pegged at 6.8%. Three months later, this was revised to 7.7% while in February 2011, the quick estimates pegged it at 9.1%-a change of over 40% within a year (ibid).

Given a figure of $1.216 trillion in 2008, those are pretty big differences. That’s a difference of about $28 billion dollars if my own dodgy calculations are right (1.298 trillion at the low end, 1.326 at the high). That’s only $8 billion more than America’s air conditioning bill for Afghanistan and Iraq, but still a lot.


India’s employment data is especially dodgy. According to the NSSO, over half of the population is self-employed, but that’s often a fancy word for unemployed. They definitely earn less money. By their stats, only 15% of Indians have what I’d consider a job. That self-employment figure, however, enables them to show both less jobs and less unemployment.

RBI Governor Duvvuri Subbarao said, “The recently put out data on employment throw up a paradox as they simultaneously indicate fewer jobs created in the five-year period to 2010 along with a decline in the long-term unemployment rate.” (Express Buzz)


Inflation figures for January and February of 2011 were revised from 8.2 per cent and 8.3 per cent to 9.5 per cent—a difference of 120 basis points, unheard of elsewhere. (ibid)

It’s like the Indian government is herding cats and that statistics department is trying to count them. It’s not easy, but it’s also essential. Why? Well, so I can I can learn how to make infographics, but also because the Indian government needs to plan policy, Indian businesses need to business and foreign investors need to invest. There’s big money involved now, and big gaps in the numbers.

Further Reading: The Hindu – Official statistics need to be reliable

RSS feed | Trackback URI

1 Comment »

2011-07-12 03:15:42

These days we hear a lot of unreliable stats from every corner.. not just from India!!

Name (required)
E-mail (required - never shown publicly)
Your Comment (smaller size | larger size)
You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

email indi AT

Recent Comments

What A Colombo Revolution Might Look Like (Thailand) (7)

Liberal One: Very well written. The sad thing is this section of the society has taken hold of UNP and were so determined not to see the party under a Premadasa or a D.B Wijethunga again, completely destroyed the party with their various...

Shirley Silva: Good analysis but you failed to mention that unlike in Bangkok a good shower would send the UNPs scuttling home. Above all there is a big leadership vacuum. No charismatic leader like in Thailand

Israel And Sri Lanka: War And Proportionality (1)

Jack Point: Hmmm Not quite sure if proportionality is the right word to use. The argument I think is on the lines of the end justifying the means. Certainly, of the two Israel looks far worse, more wanton. The peace of Sri Lanka is however a...

How The BBS Attacks (A Tale Of Two Cities) (6)

Jack Point: The BBS is tapping into resentments that are buried deep in the subconscious. What they do it to tap in to them, nurture them and magnify them. Exactly what 969 is doing. Exactly what the Nazi’s did. http://jestfork icks.blogsp...

shammi: But you do agree that not arresting G.A. Gnanasara and any other lawbreakers from both sides will only serve to deepen this mistrust? If you don’t, you must be living in said land.

Liberal One: I was talking about the distrust between Sinhalese and Muslims. If you think distrust between these two communities didn’t exist before Gnanasara thero entered the scene you must be living in the la la land of the Colombians.

Damian Poosa (2000-2014) (1)

greene: innalillahi wa inna ilaihi raajioon.

Buddhism And Racism (2)

Johan: Temples tend to be quite skilled at fund raising for building projects within temple premises; perhaps they could mobilise those skills to raise funds to rebuild the damage wrought in Aluthgama and Beruwela. If you go to a particular...

Nandasiri Wanninayaka: Nice to see you are blogging again.

Anti Christian Christmas (2)

Jack Point: I found this video very disturbing. v=EUHCQyxK3ps&a mp;feature=yout http://dbsjeyar hives/27450

Israel And Sri Lanka: War And Proportionality

In both Gaza and Mullativu, militants embedded within civilian populations were bombed at great human cost. What makes these cases different? In short, I’d say the difference is proportionality. Many civilians died in Sri Lanka, but a decades long war was ended. They died for a proportional military objective. In Palestine, however, many civilians died for the Israeli’s to find some tunnels and slow down some mostly ineffective rocket fire. That was not, in my opinion, a military objective proportional to killing so many civilians, destroying so much infrastructure and collectively punishing a population they already held under siege.

Damian Poosa (2000-2014)

Our family cat Damian passed away last night. He was an American cat and it was fitting that he passed on the Fourth Of July. Damian was an ornery cat made happy by the love and care of my sister and parents. I brought him home on the day of my high school graduation (a stunningly thoughtless thing, in hindsight) and my sister and mother actually raised him. He then travelled back to Sri Lanka and had a great time till he got old.

How The BBS Attacks (A Tale Of Two Cities)

This seems to be the basic BBS gameplan (for fucking up everything we’ve worked so hard to build after the war). It’s a cycle of outrage, riot, fear, repeat. It’s like the eightfold path to not being a Buddhist:

Buddhism And Racism

Buddhism is not racist. The ideas and practice of Buddhism involve meditation, perception of impermanence and ultimately what we would call a renunciation of self. Being a Buddhist, however, is not just that. Being a Buddhist fundamentally involves taking refuge in three things – the Buddha, the Dhamma (his teachings) and the Sangha (the community of practice). As a Buddhist, this is why the violence in Aluthgama is so troubling. Becomes it comes cloaked in the colors of the Sangha. The main racists and instigators of mob violence are monks.