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Data helps in holding government accountable: experts

Aug 31, 2017

Experts called for user literacy of data in the absence of which even valuable data cannot be disseminated efficiently

New Delhi: The importance of data is to hold government accountable in various areas of development. Not just that data serves as an important tool for journalists to raise various issues.

These data related thoughts related to human development emerged at the second episode of the Impact Conclave 2017 in New Delhi. The discourse focussed on discussing evidence on the development landscape with respect to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Experts stressed for social auditing of various social and development related interventions by the government, for instance, there should be social audit for public health.

Suneeta Krishnan, Deputy Director, Measurement, Learning and Evaluation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said that there was a role for different type of actors for collecting data.“It's important to realise that government is not the only stakeholder in terms of SDGs. We are using data in scientific ways to work towards SDG goals,” she said.

Pradeep Narayanan, Director- Research and Capacity building, PRAXIS, talking about politics of measurement said that measurement was also a sort of power. “Data is a silent movie without any visuals,” he said.

Narayan said that MDGs have been made by North for the North to support South. “However, SDGs have a more inclusive development process compared to the MDGs. The concept of development is complex, non linear, subjective and sometimes irrational,” he said.

Milindo Chakrabarti, Visiting Fellow, Research and information systems for developing countries, said that new methodological approach was necessary for South-South cooperation. “We have not been able to integrate micro issues with the macro ones,” he said.

Chakrabarti said that while constructing human development indicators one should be mindful of the consumption of resources. “Resources are not just economical, but also political resources (political participation), Social resources (differences of caste and Creed),” he said.

Chakrabarti said that a methodological structure needs to be developed for consumption of resources from family level to the global level. “My Development is based on what I consume, not what others consume. Assuming away of the micro macro mismatch is one of the flaws of human development indicators. Human development should bring in those indicators. Data should not be an excuse for the development.,” he emphasised.

Suraj Kumar, Chief Mentor, Neeti Foundation, said that much of development agenda is mirrored in the Sustainable Development Goals. “There should be a mechanism of review for localising the SDGs,” he said.

Kumar said that SDGs required translation and customisation for sub national contexts. “SDGs are much more sensitive than MDGs in terms of disability. SDGs are much more about how than what,” he said.

Talking about the importance of data, Kumar regretted that every body wants to take from the statistical system, nobody wants to contribute to the statistical system. “User literacy of data is very important otherwise it cannot be disseminated efficiently,” he said.

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