Macro Economy

Government crunches big data to mine meaningful facts: Chief Economic Advisor

| Updated on: Jan 15, 2018


Says data analytics powered Economic Survey 2016-17

Number crunching for the 2016-17 economic survey indicated twice the number of people migrate every year for livelihood opportunities than estimated earlier, according to Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian.

“We did a lot of new research on the Indian economy for the economy survey; and for the first time, we used a lot of big data to analyse certain things,” he said while delivering a lecture on ‘Economic Survey 2016-17: How India Surprises’.

For instance, big-data research was done pertaining to migration of people within India, reach of welfare spending, internal trade and property tax, among others.

Tracking migration Thanks to the Railway Ministry, we got data on passengers travelling across reserved, unreserved and AC coaches. The findings were striking. “Within India, 8-9 million people migrate every year — almost double what the government had previously thought.” About 7 lakh people go from Surat to Tamil Nadu every year. “Indians are dynamic and are moving out for opportunities,” he added.

The impression is that all trucks are stuck at the borders and it is very difficult to move goods within India. But thanks to the unique tax-related data on goods movement from one State to another, trade within the country is not very small. India’s internal trade to GDP ratio is comparable to that of other large countries, he added.

Satellite data on two cities —Bengaluru and Jaipur — showed that Bengaluru was actually collecting about 20 per cent and Jaipur about five per cent of their potential property taxes.

“All cities, including Chennai, should use such data to improve tax collections. It is unambiguously true that the more a city collects in property taxes, the better the services it provides.”

Published on March 31, 2017
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