National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) was set
up in 1950 as a permanent survey organisation to conduct national sample
surveys to assist in socio-economic planning and policy-making. The first
round of NSS, covering rural India was conducted during 1950-51. Since
then NSSO has been conducting sample surveys on a variety of subjects and
the data have been widely used by the Government, social scientists and
other users. The work of NSSO has won international acclaim and stimulated
the creation of similar organisations in other developing countries.
For coordination of statistical activities of the
different Central Ministries and the State governments and for promotion
of statistical standards, the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) was
created in May 1951. CSO prepares national accounts, compiles and publishes
industrial statistics and conducts economic census and surveys. The Computer
Centre (CC) was set up in 1967 as an attached office of the Department
of Statistics to cater to the data processing needs of the Department and
other Departments of the Union Government.
First Sample Survey
The NSS conducted the first sample survey on multi-subject
household enquiries, designed to fill gaps in the data required for planning,
in randomly selected villages and urban blocks spread over the entire geographical
area of the country. The first 'round' (Oct 1950-March 1951) and the second
round (Apr-June 1951) of NSS were conducted in a sample of 1833 and 1,160
villages, respectively. Urban areas were first covered in the third round
(August-November 1951). In this round, a sample of 920 villages and 490
urban blocks were covered at the all-India level. At present, NSS covers,
in each round, a sample of about 12,000 to 14,000 villages and blocs at
the all-India level through 'State samples' (covered by various States/Union
The all-India household consumer expenditure survey started with the first round of NSS, giving the first all-India picture. The NSS enquiries on consumer expenditure are now the main source of data on level of living of the Indian population. The data thrown up by these enquiries form the basis of all poverty calculations carried out by the Planning Commission, which include setting up of the poverty line and estimation of the number and proportion of “poor” in different regions of the country. The survey on employment and unemployment was started with the ninth round of NSS to assess the volume and structure of employment and unemployment.
In 1954-55, NSS conducted the first household survey of land holdings in its eighth round. This historic enquiry threw up data on the size distribution of land holdings at a time when land reform legislation was being enacted in different States. Crop estimation surveys, covering principal crops, started by the NSS in 1957-58, helped to put crop statistics in India on a sound statistical footing.
Data on literacy, education, health and morbidity are essential for evaluation of the need for government action in each of these areas. The NSSO is the only source that provides periodic estimates of literacy, school enrolment, utilisation of educational services, general morbidity, maternity and child care and utilisation of medical services. It also conducts survey to estimate the total number of physically disabled persons in the country and utilisation of the public distribution system.
The NSS started collection of data on condition of
' dwelling units, and basic housing amenities available to them, from its
seventh round. However, comprehensive independent surveys on housing condition
to provide reliable estimates at State/UT level for both rural and urban
areas of the country were first undertaken in 1973-74, and then in 1988-89
and 1993. The first Debt and Investment survey was conducted by the Reserve
Bank of India (RBI) in 1951- 52 and christened the 'All India Rural Debt
Survey'. This and the subsequent one, carried out in 1961-62 again by the
RBI were limited to rural areas only. However, in 1971-72, this survey
was conducted along with the Land Holdings Survey of the 26th round of
NSS and covered in the subsequent 37th and 48th Rounds. A continuous series
of retail and wholesale prices is available in India for a fairly long
time. The rural retail prices are being collected by the NSS since the
early 50’s (from the fifth round onwards). In addition, the NSS
collects data on retail prices from a number of urban centres. The rural
retail prices are used by the Labour Bureau to construct Consumer Price
Index (CPI) numbers for agricultural labourers, and the urban retail prices
are used by the CSO to construct CPI numbers for non-manual workers. NSS
data on socio-economic surveys are regularly released through the quarterly
publication Sarvekshana issued by the Department of Statistics. Recent
Improvements Several steps have been taken to ensure that results of any
survey become available to its users within about 12 months of the completion
of field work. Two additional data processing centres have been set up
in Ahmedabad and Bangalore to enhance the processing capabilities of NSSO.
The estimates based on the surveys conducted in 1993-94 were finalised
in 1995 and could be used by the Planning Commission for formulation of
the Ninth Five Year Plan. The NSSO, equipped with upgraded hardware, has
enhanced its capabilities of data processing immensely. A number of innovative
data-processing packages have been developed in-house to strengthen the
existing systems design. The Survey Design & Research Division of NSSO
is constantly striving to shorten the length of the schedule as also to
improve upon its content through extensive pilot studies. This will not
only improve the quality of data, by reducing informant fatigue, but also
cut down on processing time significantly. In recent times, extensive use
of PCUs and other hardware devices in preparation of reports has helped
to bring significant improvement in terms of both quality and presentability.
The first official estimates of the national income, prepared by the CSO at constant prices with base year 1948-49, as well as at current prices, were brought out in 1956. The coverage of the National Accounts Statistics was gradually extended to incorporate, successively, estimates of private consumption, expenditure, capital formation and savings, factor incomes, consolidated accounts of the nation and detailed accounts of the public sector. In 1978, a White Paper was published introducing another change in base year, this time to 1970-71, for the constant prices series. Estimates of this new series were published in "National Accounts Statistics", 1978.
In February 1988, the CSO released a new series of
national accounts aggregates with 1980-81 as base year. Various methodological
improvements were carried out in preparing the 1980-81 series. Efforts
were made to use as much current data as possible to replace the proportions
based on the old benchmark surveys. Special mention should be made of data
collected under the programme of follow-up surveys of the Economic Census.
Index of Industrial Production
The index of industrial production (IIP) prepared
by the CSO is the most up-to-date indicator of industrial growth in the
Indian economy. The index of industrial production with base year 1980-81
is compiled and released every month. This estimate get revised subsequently
on receipt of updated data. To capture the structural change in the industrial
sector it has been decided to shift the base year of the existing sources
of IIP to a more recent period.
Economic Census (EC)
Economic Census (EC) and follow-up surveys were introduced in 1977. EC provides basic details about all economic enterprises in the country. The follow-up surveys are the only dependable source of information on the unorganised sector of non-agricultural production for the preparation of the national accounts. The second EC was conducted in 1980 with the house-listing operations of the 1981 population census. The third EC was carried out in 1990 along with the house-listing operations of the 1991 population census.
To fill data gaps CSO has conducted surveys on Directory
trading establishments (1990-91), own account enterprises and establishments
covering services sector (1991-92), mining quarrying and storage and warehousing
(1992-93), hotels & restaurants and transport (1994). The CSO also
launched an enterprise survey covering services sector during 1997-98.
Human Development Statistics
The CSO plays the role of a coordinator covering the fields of population, human development, manpower, employment, health, education and social welfare, and maintenance of specific standards in these fields. As a follow-up action of the ESCAP Project on Improvement of Statistics on Gender Issues, the CSO has brought out the second issue of the publication "Women and Men in India, 1995".
The CSO has assumed the responsibility for development
of statistical standards in environment statistics and strengthening of
data base in the area of environment statistics. A country paper on Review
of Current Status of Environment Statistics in India has been prepared
for the purpose. A steering committee has been constituted for implementation
of the ADB Project on Institutional Strengthening and Collection of Environment
Data on urban retail prices are collected every month
in 59 selected urban centres throughout India for about 250 items, including
15 items of selected service charges. Information is also collected on
house rent and off take of commodities. Based on this data, CSO prepares,
on a monthly basis, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) numbers for urban non-manual
employees (UNME) with base 1984-85. These indices are used for planning
and policy formulations by the Government as well as private and public
agencies. A six- monthly brochure giving subgroup and group-wise CPI for
UNME pertaining to the period Jan-June 1995 has also been prepared.
Director, Department of Statistics