Saturday, 2 July 2011

National Statistics Day --- what a waste of an event

 I was surprised to know that we in India are supposed to celebrate National Statistics Day according this government advertisement. I do not see any reason to celebrate, rather I want to grieve. There was this half a page ad in the Times of India. I'm sure the govt. would have paid the newspaper hefty sum for the space.

Anyhow, what was shocking to know is that we have a Ministry of Statistics, that is spending a whopping 650 crores of our money. Money the government of India will either borrow or print, we as citizens have to pay for this waste via taxes or indirectly thru inflation.

Even if one assumes that we have the money, then we as country could be better off spending 650 crores on other pressing priorities.

There are many things that is wrong with use of statistics and odd economic indicators. Good reading material that explains this are Statistics: Achilles' Heel of Government by Murray N. Rothbard and The Trouble with Economic Statistics by Robert Higgs.

In the corporate world I come from, there is a general obsession with data. Many a times it supersedes common sense, reason, experience and conviction even though the quality of "data" is suspect and full of biases of the data collector and interpreter, there is a blind faith often leading to wrong decisions. I guess years of state prescribed curricula and factory schooling has contributed to this.

Besdies, the wasteage of money involved in operating a Ministry for Statistics, just for data collection which obviously will be stale and junk, the real issue here is the dangerous policy presrectipons that will come out subjectively interpreting this "data".

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