If gov­ern­ments and mul­ti­lat­eral or­gan­i­sa­tions cen­sor crit­i­cal data on de­vel­op­ment, imag­ine how ba­nal is our mea­sure­ment of progress and growth

Down to Earth - - OPINION - BI­RAJ SWAIN

Nthat can be counted counts,and not eveOT EV­ERY­THING ry­thing that counts can be counted,said Al­bert Ein­stein. But count­ing does mat­ter, as pointed out by Joseph Stiglitz,Amartya Sen and Jean-Paul Fi­toussi in their re­port for the Com­mis­sion on the Mea­sure­ment of Eco­nomic Per­for­mance and So­cial Progress,“What we mea­sure af­fects what we do and if our mea­sure­ments are flawed,de­ci­sions may be dis­torted…if met­rics of per­for­mance are flawed,so too may be in­fer­ences we draw.”

There is a new buzz in town af­ter the United Na­tions Sec­re­tary Gen­eral (unsg) called for a data revo­lu­tion for sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.This was in re­sponse to the grow­ing angst about the di­luted def­i­ni­tion of data—where it has been re­stricted to num­bers and the naive as­sump­tion that tech­nol­ogy and pri­vate sec­tor will pro­vide the sil­ver bul­let so­lu­tion to the data-deficit. Ab­sence of ac­count­abil­ity, the bedrock of pub­lic data for pub­lic ac­tion, is also an­other cause for con­cern.

An era of in­creas­ing cen­sor­ship where dis­clo­sure poli­cies and sun­shine laws are re­scind­ing is an­other worry and so is the wa­ter­ing down of whis­tle-blow­ers’ pro­tec­tion leg­is­la­tion, In­dia be­ing a case in point.What is even more dis­com­fort­ing is the in­ad­e­quate at­ten-


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