Grand Tamasha

Rescuing the Indian Statistical System

Episode Summary

On the season nine finale of Grand Tamasha, Pramit Bhattacharya joins Milan for an critical assessment of India's statistical system.

Episode Notes

Programming Note: This is the very last episode of Season Nine of Grand Tamasha. As is our usual, we are going to take July and August off to recharge our batteries. We will be back in September with our tenth season of podcasts, and we’re excited about the conversations we have planned for the Fall.


Some of our listeners may recall way back in February 2020—the month before the world came to a standstill—Milan sat down with the journalistPramit Bhattacharyato discuss the unfolding crisis in Indian economic data. Pramit returns to the show today to discuss a new report that he’s just published with Carnegie titled, “India’s Statistical System: Past, Present, Future.”

Pramit’s new report is the single-best resource on the trials and tribulations of India’s data machinery. It contains the kind of straight-ahead reporting and analysis that people have come to expect from Pramit, who writes the “Truth, Lies, and Statistics” column forMintand the “Simply Economics” column for theHindustan Times.

Milan and Pramit discuss why it is both the best and worst of times for data users in India, how India squandered its competitive advantage in statistical data, and just exactly what today’s data crisis means for the average Indian. Plus, the two discuss Pramit’s ideas for overhauling the system.


Episode notes:

Pramit Bhattacharya on the Crisis in India’s Economic Data,”Grand Tamasha, February 12, 2020.

Arvind Subramanian, “India's GDP Mis-estimation: Likelihood, Magnitudes, Mechanisms, and Implications,” Harvard Kennedy School Working Paper, June 2019.

Pramit Bhattacharya, “How India’s Statistical System Was Crippled,”Mint, May 7, 2019.

Pramit Bhattacharya, “Make our statistics credible again,”Mint, January 3, 2022.