Government data is a key resource for ensuring healthy democracy, citizen participation, and most importantly, reform and accountability. Even on February 1, when Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2020 in parliament, she outlined the importance of data and stated that in order to face the challenge of real-time monitoring of India’s increasingly intricate economy, data must have strong credibility. The importance of data today is such that the phrase “data is the new oil” has become cliché, she said.
However, after seven months of outlining the importance of data credibility, since the beginning of the Parliament Monsoon Session, no such data is maintained has become a recurring theme in the government’s answers to various questions raised by the opposition.
Although the government wants to monitor and track our every movement, unfortunately, it forgot to keep data on the issues that are currently grappling with the country.
Assistant professor at Azim Premji University, Rajendran Narayanan stated that the Modi government’s unplanned lockdown created an epic humanitarian crisis. The BJP government has eluded its basic responsibilities and does not even know who bore the most brunt of the lockdown. This is the main reason that the Modi government always says it has no data. Their response reveals that they remain callousness to the poor.
What worse is that no announcement has yet been made about any cash support because they said, again and again, they don’t have any record or data, which means they don’t have to compensate, ultimately, no responsibility of them! This is the reason why the Modi government always says ‘Sab Theek hai’, ‘Sb Changa si’.
The leader of the Congress (from Kerala) shared an illustration in a satirical tweet that described “NDA” as “no data available.” NDA actually stands for “National Democratic Alliance”, which is a political alliance that is ruled by the BJP at the center.
No #data on migrant workers, no data on farmer suicides, wrong data on fiscal stimulus, dubious data on #Covid deaths, cloudy data on GDP growth — this Government gives a whole new meaning to the term #NDA! pic.twitter.com/SDl0z4Hima— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) September 22, 2020
We have compiled a list of issues on which the Modi led-BJP government says it has no data for:
1. Modi Government has no data on deaths of migrant workers during the lockdown
On March 24, after India announced the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of hapless and poor migrant workers had no way back to their villages and hometowns. They began to walk home and hundreds of people died in two months.
We all know that not only while walking home but more than 65 migrant workers were killed in the special train service run by the government for the needy and stranded workers.
In a related question, when asked about data on migrant deaths during the lockdown period, the government of Narendra Modi told in a parliament that it had no information on the deaths of migrant workers during the lockdown imposed to curb the COVID-19 disease.
As a result, compensation cannot be provided to affected families. The response of Narendra Modi’s government in the parliament seemed harsh and insensitive.
Therefore, in the absence of credible data collection, the number of displaced 10 million migrant workers can only be considered as a rough figure that satisfies the issues raised in the Parliament.
Here are the Reasons Why No Data is Available:
- The central government does not want to provide compensation.
- The lack of a comprehensive database on the deaths of migrant workers is one of the main reasons that prompted the Modi government to abandon the idea of transferring cash to these workers as part of the economic package. Even out of PM funds, the government won’t help or compensate sufferers’ families.
- If the main reason is that the data is not kept because of the embarrassment it would cause, the government is doomed to be ruthless.
- Timely, reliable data has never been more important than it is now, but this need is sad when our statistical agency is weakened by institutional decline and political interference.
The lack of data at the core of Indian governance partly explains the inability of the Indian government to deal with the crisis.
With the joint efforts of Stranded Workers Action Network and researchers Thejesh GN, Kanika Sharma, Krushna, and Aman, these data were manually collated with the help of Roadscholarz.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had asked on Tuesday, You didn’t count, does that mean they are not dead?
Nation Needs To Know— Mahua Moitra (@MahuaMoitra) September 16, 2020
Stranded Worker’s Action Network (SWAN) puts migrant death figure at 972 till July 4 – GoI says no data on deaths
Can @BJP govt at least divert some resources from fake propaganda budget to check on these deaths & provide compensation?
2. No data on COVID-19 impact on Jobs
We all know that millions of people are unemployed due to coronavirus and lockdown. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in India, the government has not collected data on unemployment, migrants who lost their lives in lockdowns across the country, student deaths who died from the deadly virus.
On September 14, three members of parliament asked the Ministry of Labour and Employment of India, has the government conducted any assessment of the job losses of workers caused by the Covid-19 crisis? and if so, the details of the assessment. To this, Santosh Gangwar, the Minister of State for Labor and Employment, answered that the government has no data.
Why is the government lying? In April 2020, CMIE data revealed, that the ballooning number of job losses among wage earners is a serious cause for concern. Still, the Modi Government didn’t take any action. And now when it asked about data, it said it doesn’t have any data on the impact of COVID-19 on the job.
Reason for No Data:
- Data will reveal the Modi government’s fake claims regarding employment.
- The central government does not want to disclose unconventional data because it has never prioritized employment.
- The main reason for the unavailability of data is not proper cooperation between central and state governments.
The main reason for the economic downturn is unemployment, which has risen due to the Coronavirus, but it is strange that our government has no data on unemployment, so how can it show real data on GDP.
3. Modi Govt said DPIIT does not have any Data On Startups Contribution To GDP
Although startups continue to be one of the key factors that boost entrepreneurship, employment, innovation, and investment in the country, their contribution to India’s gross domestic product (GDP) has not yet been recorded by the government.
In response to another question, Piyush Goyal, the commerce minister said that we don’t have any data available on the contribution made by startups. The minister also appended that DPIIT does not have the data on startups hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
On MSMEs’ data, the central government reiterated that no data has been kept on how many small and medium businesses have been shut down during the lockdown and pandemic. However, On September 6, the minister said, DPIIT had recognized a total of 36,106 startups. Nevertheless, as announced by MSME Nitin Gadkari on multiple public occasions, the MSMEs GDP share is nearly 29 percent that the government is hoping to increase to 50 percent in five years.
Reason for no data:
- The real figure will reveal the economic position and the package the Modi govt provided to MSMEs without knowing accurate data. That’s why they want to hide data.
- The government doesn’t want to support the MSMEs sector by providing loans or various other schemes that’s why it does not keep any data.
In fact, AIMO (All India Manufacturers Organisation) survey reveals actual figures that due to the outbreak of coronavirus and lockdown, nearly 37% of MSMEs and 39 % self-employed have shut down their businesses. But the strange thing is that our government has no data for the same.
4. No data on health workers who died due to CORONAVIRUS
The pandemic raging in India (which has more than 5 million positive cases) also led to the deaths of several frontline medical workers. But according to the central government, it has no data on this matter either.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, India entered into a 75-day national lockdown period. In response to an undetermined question about the number of health care workers (including doctors, ASHA workers, nurses, and support staff ) who were infected with COVID-19 and died, the government stated that the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare did not retain such data.
Reason: There are two main reasons why the Modi government has no data:
- The Modi government does not put these important issues first. It doesn’t care about people who are about to die. It seems that the Modi government has focused on MLA seats only. It has proper records of the parties, but no record of the health workers who died due to COVID-19.
- The Minister of Health Ashwini Choubey told Rajya Sabha this week that health is a state subject and that is why such data is not kept.
- This means that the government, regardless of whether it was caused by the coronavirus or not, will not allow an autopsy on dead patients/health workers.
- Officials who did not want to be named said that in addition to financial constraints, there is a lack of a database with no bank account details and the number of Aadhaar cards of these workers, which is an obstacle.
According to IMA coronavirus data, as many as 2,239 doctors contracted the disease, and 383 of them died.
If the government does not keep statistics of the total number of physicians and medical staff infected with coronavirus disease, as well as statistics/data of how many lives have been lost due to this deadly pandemic, the Modi government loses its moral authority to administer and implement the Epidemic Act of 1897 and the Disaster Management Act, IMA further stated.
The IMA insisted that the government’s response exposed the hypocrisy of calling physicians corona warriors but denying them and their families the status and benefits of martyrdom.
By the end of April, India had only conducted 1 million tests, but there is no detailed information on the travel or contact history of more than of those coming in for testing.
The former Congress chief tweeted: Their healthcare staff’s safety and respect are more significant than lighting lamps or beating plates.
5. No data, So no compensation to Victims
In a similar question raised to the Ministry of Labor, the government added that it did not keep data on the deaths of migrant workers, so the compensation issue “did not arise”.
The fact is:
- In the Modi Government, hiding data is not a new phenomenon. In the past six years, we have been seeing records being purged or moved out of context to make them reintegrate.
- In refusing to address inconvenient data, the government proved that it is unworthy of the people it governs.
6. No data on the unorganized sector
The Modi government stated that it is not considering this proposal, in response to the question of whether it is collating or collecting data on the number of unorganized workers, contract workers, and labor in the country.
Former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan recently pointed out that India’s economic growth declined by 23.9% in the first quarter of fiscal year 20-21 is “alert” when we estimate the loss of the informal sector. In the future, the numbers may be worse.
7. No data on RTI activists murdered
When DMK’s K. Shamugasundaram raised an unstarred question then the government stated that the country has no data on RTI militants murdered in the country and the implementation of the state’s whistleblower protection program. By restricting the right to information (RTI), the government further restricted the review of administrative statistics.
Reason: The Government doesn’t want people to know its true face by revealing dangerous data.
8. No data on India’s position on the world corruption list
In response to an unmarked question raised by Sunil Kumar Mondal of TMC, the Indian government stated that it does not have any data on India’s position in the list of corrupt countries in the world. That is why corruption and crime are high in India. It seems that our government is corrupt, that is why it has no record.
9. Modi Government has no data on Safai Karamcharis’ who had died during the lockdown and pandemic
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment informed the Rajya Sabha it has no data on Safai Karamcharis who had died during the lockdown and pandemic due to safety and health risks related to cleaning hospitals and medical waste.
This shows how careless the Modi government is!
10. No data on the number of Plasma Banks in the Country
In response to the question of the total number of plasma banks currently operating to provide plasma treatment for COVID-19 patients in the country, and whether the government recommends the establishment of more plasma banks to deal with the country’s disease problems, Ashwini Chobey, Minister of State for Health, stated that states have taken the initiative to establish such banks, but have not maintained a central database of such banks.
This shows that the government’s focus is only on giving speeches to providing several programs like open the bank’s plasma instead of keeping records of its programs.
11. Modi Government has no data on policemen excesses during the pandemic and lockdown
The Ministry of the Home affairs informed Rajya Sabha that it did not keep any data on excessive police actions taken during the lockdown, which resulted in rape/injury/harassment/death of individuals.
According to data from G Kishen Reddy told the 7th schedule of the constitution, such cases or complaints were not kept centrally since police and public order are state subjects.
Reason: Instead of coming up with a method to tackle this, the government rejected the survey results due to data quality issues.
The Modi-led BJP government has come a long way from asking data to not having much of it when in the government. This is interesting because the BJP government attacked the UPA government many times for data delays.
Its 2014 declaration promised to establish Big data and Analytics Institute and using real-time and big data to solve problems such as several agricultural dilemmas and intelligence gathering. However, the party that promised real-time data, has been failed to ensure the timely release of data and even abandoned surveys and investigations.
It shows that this is the best opportunity for the Modi government to evade from their responsibility and accountability.
The government has the power to collect more than 1 billion crores of CAA and NRC data for its voting bank hunger. How strange it is!
It is undeniable that the BJP government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been opaque, denied citizens important data, and creating hurdles to those who seeking accountability.
The problem is, when you don’t have any data, you can’t solve the problem. If you don’t know the severity of the problem, how can you solve the problem?
All the above facts reveal that the Central government is a careless government!
The major issues facing India include a decline in GDP, jobs lost/ unemployment, alarming COVID figures but for the government of India “sab theek hai”; ‘sab changa si’.
It should be pointed out that in an era when most companies rely heavily on data analysis, the inadequacy of various government departments may have a catastrophic impact on India’s economic growth.
It is only destructive to know that we have turned a blind eye to the government we have chosen to protect ourselves. If Modi Government cannot even provide exact numbers for those who died due to a pandemic, how can this government protect people?
Isn’t it a wake-up call for all Indian citizens to understand their situation, to understand where they live, to understand how the government is making us fool and plundering us? After all, we are the ones who elect the government, and the power to make or destroy anything is entirely in our hands.