India is facing a data crisis that is affecting its ability to measure growth, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri said Tuesday. In a reference to concerns of growing unemployment in the country, against the backdrop of media reports on the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data, Puri said zero urbanisation was one of the factors on which the NSSO report was based.
“I have a problem that every day, hundreds and thousands of people are coming to cities, creating informal settlements, creating slums, which is a term I don’t like, and you are saying that you based a report on zero urbanisation,” Puri said, speaking at the national conference organised by Shri Ram College of Commerce at India Habitat Centre.
“We may have an employment crisis. I am the first to say that we need to do more. But one thing we definitely have is a data crisis. The ability, the instrument to measure growth that is taking place is not there,” he added.
Puri said a study done by the Confederation of Indian Industry stated that “in the last five years, we have produced between 13 million and 15 million jobs”.
“If that is correct, and I have no reason (to believe) that it is wrong, then that other report is a false narrative. In any case, my submission is we need to improve the data that we have, because any manipulation in terms of narrative is ultimately based on data or the lack of it,” he said.
“Academics [are] fully into creating a false narrative, make no mistake. Politicians — that’s their prime job. And newspapers don’t even make a pretense of objectivity,” he added.
Puri said that by 2027, the world’s largest workforce would reside in India. “If you don’t educate these people properly and if you don’t skill them properly, you have a humongous problem on your hands. I am very worried about the way, the direction the education system is taking, because I think there are some things holding us back. And what is holding us back is the reluctance to reform, which is coming not from the students. I think it’s a reluctance coming from those who are in charge of drafting the curriculae and setting courses,” he said.