As India is pacing towards a bigger global goal, the need for faster and refined data is more than ever.
To tackle the hindrances like unsubstantial and delayed data, the Ministry Of Statistics is trusting artificial intelligence processes to analyze and report all of its economic data. With the help of a $60 million program from the World Bank, the ministry plans to collate real-time data. “End-to-end automation will enhance the quality, credibility, and timeliness of data”, says Statistics Secretary Kshatrapati Shivaji.
What Does This Mean?
Years of dependency on manual processing have been a pressing issue for the country to authenticate its economic data amidst controversies. The pandemic has exposed the inadequacies of conventional methods to procure economic data.
With a population as vast as 1.3 billion, India had to suspend field surveys owing to the lockdown. As only 20% of the total population knows how to use the internet, this led to gaps in the monthly retail inflation numbers. This void is being taken care of using phone surveys, but the ministry is on its way to establish an electronic survey system along with digital databases.
Why The Growing Need For AI?
India wants to overthrow China’s manufacturing superpower by wooing companies towards its own manufacturing sector. But it is difficult to compete with Asia’s economic leader with untimely statistical reporting. India’s quarterly GDP data is reported with a 2-month lag, whereas the Chinese report it with a lag of less than 3-weeks.
One of the most pressing issues for India is its jobs statistics. As compared to the U.S & China that release monthly job numbers, Indian employment statistics are a year out of date by the time they are reported. This is a crucial problem as more than 1 million people step foot in the job market, monthly. India’s statistics department itself has a shortage of statistical officers’ posts in different ministries and states. Around 5,350 positions are vacant. Dependency on artificial intelligence can help them overcome these constraints.
Foreign investment is a challenging move in India. According to Joevin Teo, head of Asia fixed-income at Amundi Singapore Ltd, having substantial data in terms of employment and retail sales would largely help fund managers avoid hindrances where economic data and on-ground-reality are a mismatch. For now, the situation is not alarming as international investors have poured in $24 billion into the Indian stock market over the past 12 months, according to Bloomberg. But the idea is to make foreign investment easier in the country.
Statistical Gap Between India & China
• There is a significant amount of gap in economic data reporting which is a cause of concern in India. Talking about GDP, both India and China report quarterly. India has a 60 day lag whereas China has a data lag of 2-3 weeks.
• Industrial Production is reported monthly by both the countries. India has a 42 day data lag and China has a 2-3 weeks lag.
• Consumer Inflation indicator is sent out monthly as well. Here, India has a 12 day lag as opposed to 9-15 days lag.
• Unemployment report is put out annually by India with 1-year data lag and China with a lag of just 2-3 weeks.
Adopting artificial intelligence is sure to better the output of economic data. The need for this has been realized by the ministry and extensive measures are being taken to make sure automation and technology-intensive applications are being used wherever the opportunity arises.