Data generated by government agencies are political in nature and one has to be taught to use them with critical insights, said Joydeep Baruah, associate professor in Economics at OKD Institute of Social Change and Development, Guwahati.
He said this on Friday while participating in a webinar on ‘Research and Resources: Finding and Interpreting Data’ organized by Social Science Research Community (SSRC), India.
SSRC, India is a self-sponsored research community that has brought together scholars and researchers of social sciences from all across the country and beyond.
With extensive data sheets drawn from various sources like Census, NSSO, ICSSR etc, Baruah explained the procedures of locating those data and the challenges towards interpretations.
He said that the every data sheet has its own definitions of its parameters and one agency differ from one to the other.
“The definition of a revenue village or block is quite different from a village or block defined by the irrigation department,” Baruah pointed out.
He reminded that every scholar has to be very careful in this regard.
“There are validation survey reports on government data prepared by independent agencies which are crucial for every social science researcher,” he said.
“National level macro data cannot always provide necessary local level micro data. The micro data has to be generated by state agencies. In case of Assam, such data generated by state agencies have not been preserved properly. Therefore, there is huge gap in local level data,” Dr Baruah observed.
The presentation by Baruah was followed by extensive discussions and scholars from all across the country provided their insights.
Aruni Sharma (Lukcknow University), Sukanya Sharma, (IIT, Guwahati), Monalisha Roy Choudhury (Bikali College) , Jayanta Krishna Sarmah (Gauhati University), Bornali Sharma (Cotton University), Shubhradipta Sarkar (Jamiaa Milia Islamia, New Delhi), Archana Sarmah (NorthCap University, Haryana), Raju Mandal (Assam University, Silchar), Sahana Bhattacharyya (Gauhati University), Sreeparna Bhattacharyya Roy (Assam University), Krishangi Saikia (KKHSOU) and Pankaj Bora (Bahana College) raised questions on reliability of data, quantification of quality experiences like happiness, growing use of juri-metrics in legal studies, absence of data on marginal categories like disability and unskilled labour etc.
While chairing the session, Akhil Ranjan Dutt, president of SSRC, India and head, dept of political science, Gauhati University, offered his critical observations on the issues raised by the participants.
Dutta urged the members of the community for collaboration across disciplines to come up with substantive research outcome.
Badan Barman (Gauhati University), Jintu Gohain (Royal Global University) and Neelme Konwar (Gauhati University) managed the webinar.
SSRC, India’s next webinar on ‘COVID 19 and South Asia: Country Experiences’ is scheduled for July 3, 2020.
Scholars from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka will speak in the webinar.