New Delhi: Over 100 economists and scientists on Thursday expressed concerns over "political interference" in the estimation of statistical data in India and urged for institutional independence of statistical institutions.
A statement signed by as many as 108 experts said that economic statistics is a public good and necessary for policy-making in democracies for informed public discourse.
They said the involvement of NITI Aayog and the removal of back series GDP data from the website of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) damaged the integrity of NSSO and the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
They said NITI Aayog is a statistical body and does not have any expertise in statistical data collection.
They said that India's statistical institutions never faced political influence and enjoyed high-level of reputation due to the integrity of their data for many years, which is now being ruined.
The experts urged professional economists and statisticians to raise their voice against the tendency "to suppress uncomfortable data" and force the government to restore the integrity of Indian statistical institutions and their estimated data.
The appeal comes in the backdrop of recent controversy of NSSO withholding employment data.
The signatories of the statement include include Rakesh Basant of Indian Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad), Satish Deshpande from Delhi University, Hema Swaminathan (IIM, Bangalore), Rohit Azad (Jawaharlal Nehru University), R. Ramakumar (TISS, Mumbai), University of Massachusetts at Amherst's James Boyce and Emily Breza from Harvard University.