Amid anger over Sunday’s mob attack at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), CP Chandrasekhar, a professor of the varsity, on Monday quit a government panel tasked with reviewing economic data a day before its first meeting.
Eminent economist Chandrasekhar said that he has withdrawn from the newly-constituted 28-member Standing Committee on Statistics (SCES), chaired by former chief statistician Pranob Sen while citing the current situation in JNU.
“I regret to inform you that, because of the situation in JNU where I stay, I will be unable to attend tomorrow’s meeting,” he wrote in an email to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) and the members of the committee.
On Sunday evening, a mob of masked individuals, both male and female, thrashed students, including girls, and teachers inside the campus with wooden and metal rods, injuring at least 34 people.
Further, raising apprehensions, Chandrasekhar also said that the Committee is unlikely to be able to restore the credibility of the statistical system.
“Further, I feel that, under current conditions, this Committee is unlikely to be able to restore the credibility of the statistical system, which has been undermined in the recent past,” he wrote.
Chandrasekhar, however, added that he wished to record his appreciation of the sustained efforts of a large number of colleagues within the statistical system, whom he had greatly valued working with in the past, to build a robust and credible statistical base.
“It is unfortunate that political pressures have reduced their autonomy now and efforts to consolidate a well-designed system are being subverted. In these circumstances, I will not be able to serve on this committee,” he wrote in the email.
Last year in March, expressing concerns over “political interference” in influencing statistical data in India, as many as 108 economists and social scientists had called for restoration of “institutional independence” and integrity to statistical organisations.
Their statement had come in the backdrop of a controversy over a revision of the gross domestic product (GDP) numbers and withholding of employment data by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO).
Two independent members of the National Statistical Commission — acting Chairman PC Mohanan and JV Meenakshi — had resigned on January 28 over a disagreement with the Government on certain issues.
One issue pertained to the government withholding the release of the results of NSSO’s quinquennial survey, for the year 2017-18 even though the commission approved the report.
In November also, the MOSPI had decided not to release the Consumer Expenditure Survey results of 2017-18, citing data quality issues.