Why is government data so frustrating?

Here is one reason why, from an old blog by public finance expert, T.R. Raghunandan. The sheer obduracy of the ‘system’ is mind-boggling.

The simple ask was for the Census officials to include a data field on Gram Panchayat name in their survey form. The response:

our idea was met with studied indifference by the Census authorities. The first excuse that we heard was the typical one, which is that such an approach had never been tried before. The census authorities told us that since long, conducted enumerations revenue village wise. Under this approach, each revenue village is further divided into enumerator blocks as convenient and for each such enumeration block; a trained enumerator undertakes the census.

but they did agree to write to the state governments, and it was carried out in 11 states. In the rest of the states,

authorities concerned with the issue in the states said that such an exercise was not feasible, because habitations that comprise each revenue village may be divided between different Panchayats. The census authorities therefore passed on the problem to us, suggesting that the Ministry of Panchayati Raj ought to persuade States to ensure that all revenue villages  and enumerator blocks should be fully attached within one or the another Panchayat. When we expressed our view that we were back where we started and that the census authorities had greater clout than us to persuade States to undertake this exercise, we got the bland response that this work could be taken up now, so that it can be completed in time for the census exercise in 2020.

Besides the frustration, also wonder – what on earth could be a possible reason for a revenue village to belong to more than one GP? Its time for some local land swap deals.


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