So from yesterday’s post, this is where you need to go to get the data about India’s agricultural exports. There may be more than one correct answer, of course, but the Excel file that I generated came from here. The DGCIS website also offered to give me the data, but after telling me that I would need to pay the princely amount of Rs. 169 for it. Why Rs. 169? They charge Rs. 1 for each row of data in MS Excel. Nope, I’m not making this up.
I can go on and on about the theme of working with data in India. Anybody who works with, or has worked with data published by the Indian government for the last twenty years can go on and on about this. We make it really difficult to access data easily in India, and that in the following ways:
- It is not clear which site to access to get the data that you want
- That data may not have been updated for a while
- That data will probably only be available in PDF format (which is a whole separate level of hell)
- The website may often be down (looking at you, dbie!)
To give you just one, already painfully familiar example: to download CPI data, should one go to the RBI website or the MOSPI website? If the MOSPI website (which is the correct answer), which MOSPI website? There have been two for a while now: this one, and this one.
And when you eventually do reach what may be the correct page, this is what you get:
For the record, I know you can get CPI data from the old MOSPI website. But the point I am trying to make here is this: surely we can get (and surely we deserve) better data portals? For a country with the kind of software talent that India possesses, surely this is not the best way to design a UI?
I’ve written about this before here on EFE, but every time I write a post about data in India, I get frustrated enough to write about it all over again.
Appoint an educational institute to be the nodal agency, and get them to work on a report about what needs to change, and why and how, for the DBIE website to become better than it is right now. That doesn’t mean (at all) a blind copy of FRED, awesome though FRED definitely is.https://econforeverybody.com/2021/03/16/playing-around-with-data/
Is there anybody in India working on trying to figure out ways to get Indian data to be more easily accessible? On documenting what data sources are needed, and how to arrange for their capture, their storage, and to make it easy to retrieve it? And this across all three levels of government1? And not for private profit, but so that data is open to all?
If there is such a project, I would be most grateful if you could point me towards it. And if there isn’t one, why are those of us in Indian academia not working towards figuring out how to get this done? This is India, and this is 2021. Surely we can do a better job of making data more accessible to ourselves?
- state level data is a whole different problem. And data below that level of government is, well, let’s leave it be for the moment[↩]
One thought on “The Indian FRED”
Yes, Your urge through this article is valid and highly respectable. Easy access of data not only will help Indian academia, but will also help farmers and allied entrepreneur to think through this. Policy makers/Policies are driven by data and beneficiaries of policies are mostly driven by stories, incidences (anecdotal evidences) within their context. Lack of access of large data and its insights, these narratives (local stories) stimulates every action and prompts every decision of farmers about the given policies within the context. Availability bias. This is why in India likelihood of getting desirable impact through any state policies is mostly below expectations. Therefore, mostly agricultural policies should be framed around the behavior practice of following large data insights with validation by local narratives, this kind of behavior practices can help farmers/local agricultural officers to develop economically viable solutions/business model for farmers. Hence, easy access of data through digital/technological penetration may improve causal relation between policy makers/researchers and policy beneficiaries.
From the farm.