The significance of the ” there is no data” answer

Source: The Hindu

Relevance: To understand the government’s reluctance to release data

Synopsis: Governments have the tendency to escape public scrutiny. In recent days, this has resulted in the government resorting to not releasing data on sensitive issues.

Introduction

It has often been found that governments have not provided data for issues that may show the government in a bad light.

This is evident in many cases:
  • A World Bank report indicated 40 Million migrants lost their jobs. But the Government has said it has no Data.
  • When Government was asked how many health workers lost their lives in the pandemic, Government replied that it has no data.
Situation before pandemic

The same thing was witnessed even prior to the Pandemic:

  • The government decided not to release Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MoSPI) data on Household Consumer Expenditure Survey as elections were around the corner.
  • Leaks from this data had suggested a slump in consumption expenditure.

What are the reasons for not giving data:

  • Reluctance for opening up to scrutiny by public and opposition
  • To deflect the accountability to State Governments.
  • It also allows the government to change or rewrite the narrative.
Widening information gap

While the State is creating huge data-driven infrastructure like Aadhar and yet denying the data to the public. This widens the information gap between Public and state.

 Way forward

The state is creating information asymmetry by not revealing necessary information. This ultimately results in a power asymmetry. To avoid this, the state must remember that truth and information is the basis of any democracy.

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