Faced by a severe shortage of trained statisticians,the government is looking at ways to boost the number of its cadres. The Indian Statistical Service is responsible for collation of key macro economic data such as national income,industrial output,employment and poverty. But with riper opportunities coming up in the private sector,interest in the service has dwindled over the years.
It is a two fold problem we dont have enough students interested in studying the subject and those who have studied the subject are not interested in joining the ISS, TCA Anant,the countrys chief statistician and secretary in the ministry of statistics and programme implementation (MOSPI) told The Indian Express.
As an immediate measure,MOSPI has proposed relaxing the recruitment rules for the Indian Statistical Service to allow graduates in statistics or applied statistics to appear for the exam.
At present only post graduates in statistics or applied statistics are eligible for the service. The ministry is in talks with the department of personnel and training on the issue.
A post graduate degree is required only for the ISS and the Indian Economic Service. For all other government services including the Indian Administrative Service,a bachelors degree is the requisite educational qualification, Anant said,adding that as the recruitment process takes nearly two years,many of the candidates move on to other opportunities rather than wait for the results.
But realising that the problem is much more deep rooted,MOSPI is also in talks with the ministry of human resource development on how to mainstream the subject of statistics at the school and college level. We need to make statistics a more marketable subject so that more students study it. For this we have to make arithmetic,which is the basis for statistics,more attractive, Anant said.
In addition,the ministry is also
discussing the issue with the University Grants Commission to understand
the constraints faced by colleges offering the subject.
Today statistics as a subject is completely isolated even though it is used in a number of disciplines such as physics,economics and biology. But most departments today have their own statistics wing and there is no interdisciplinary coordination, Anant who is a former professor at the Delhi School of Economics said.
The issue has also drawn the attention of the Union Public Service Commission,which has noted that the number of candidates who qualified for interviews for the statistical service were not in proportion to the vacancies during 2003 to 2007. For instance,in 2007,only 13 candidates qualified for interviews when the vacancy in the ISS was 12.