Govt must create data as ‘public good’

K.R. Srivats New Delhi | Updated on July 04, 2019 Published on July 04, 2019

Using technology in welfare schemes helped improve end-to-end governance, create an evidence-based implementation framework, streamline processes and ensure timely transfer of funds to implementing agencies and beneficiaries   -  Lenovo

Survey terms data as the next oil

The government must treat ‘data’ as a ‘public good’ and make necessary investments to harness benefits for societal welfare in social sectors of the economy such as education and health.

The benefits of creating data as a public good can be generated within the legal framework of data privacy, the Survey has said.

Government intervention is necessary because the private sector cannot internalise the social benefits of data in education and health sectors. It is for this reason that market for data in these sectors has so far not developed.

As data of societal interest are generated by the people, it should be “of the people, by the people, for the people,” and given that sophisticated technologies already exist to protect and share confidential information, data can be created as a public good within the legal framework of data privacy. “In the endeavour to create data as a public good, it is very important to consider the privacy implications and inherent fairness of data being used. Needless to say, the processes required for ensuring privacy of intimate data is very different from that required for anonymised or public data,” it said.

Data: the next oil?

Right now, India is at the cusp of data revolution, and the kind of services that are being offered, data is going to be the next oil. And, according to many industry watchers and experts, data mining/ data analysis is also going to create a lot of jobs.

The Survey also mentioned that the benefits of using technology in welfare schemes helped improve end-to-end governance, create a robust evidence-based implementation framework in partnership with the States, streamline the processes, timely transfer of funds to implementing agencies and beneficiaries and plugging of leakages.


Citing the example of the agriculture sector, the Survey has highlighted that the Government has done exactly this by creating e-NAM, as it is unlikely that the private sector would come up with a solution like this on its own.

For instance, the direct benefit transfers through Electronic Fund Management Systems in MGNREGS has streamlined the fund flow process and helped in better targeting, reduction in delay in payments to beneficiaries, minimised leakages and above all led to substantial saving of funds.

“Going forward, the data and information highway must be viewed as equally important infrastructure as the physical highways. Such a stance can help India leapfrog to utilise the benefits of technological advances for the welfare of its people,” it added.

The Survey also highlighted that the public service delivery can benefit from real-time storage of data.

Highlighting the success of Aadhaar, it mentioned that India has been at the forefront of the data and technology revolution that is unfolding because of the unique identification programme.

Prices, inflation

Meanwhile, in a separate chapter, the Survey highlighted that the headline inflation based on retail Consumer Price Index continued its declining trend for fifth straight financial year. It has remained below four per cent in the last two years. The financial year 2018-19 saw low headline as well as food inflation. The year witnessed deflation in prices of pulses, vegetables and sugar.

Core inflation (excluding the food and fuel group) averaged higher than the previous year, according to the Survey. CPI rural inflation declined during 2018-19 over 2017-18. However, CPI urban inflation increased marginally during 2018-19.

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Published on July 04, 2019
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