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A New Statistical Domain in India

An Enquiry into Village Panchayat Databases

Jun-ichi Okabe , Aparajita Bakshi

Published in association with Foundation for Agrarian Studies

Agrarian Studies 4

December 2017

6.25 x 9.5 inches

(xviii+358) 376 pages

ISBN : 978-81-934015-2-1

INR 650

The Japan Society of Economic Statistics presented its 2017 Award to Professor Jun-ichi Okabe for this book.

This book is an accomplishment of the full-scale international collaborative research between Jun-ichi Okabe (Society Member) and the Foundation for Agrarian Studies led by Prof. V. K. Ramachandran, which specializes in sophisticated fieldwork on the actual relations of India’s rural self-government, particularly the village panchayat, with its statistical databases. – An excerpt from the citation for the Award

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A new statistical domain has emerged in rural India as a consequence of the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992, a domain based on the needs and constitutional functions of the gram or village panchayat. This creation of a new level of local government requires statistical databases for the development functions that have been allocated to it. In the formulation of the Expert Committee on Basic Statistics for Local Level Development (BSLLD), "the Gram Panchayat should consolidate, maintain and own village level data".

The objective of this book is to study panchayat-level databases and their potential use in local-level administration, planning and policy implementation. The authors study the overall status of local-level data available in two contrasting village panchayats: Raina gram panchayat, Barddhaman district, West Bengal; and Warwat Khanderao gram panchayat, Buldhana district, Maharashtra. The structure of village panchayat-level data is examined from the demand side, that is, the data needs of the panchayat to fulfill its constitutionsl mandate, and from the supply side, that is, the data available and with the panchayat. As part of the study, the authors examined all records maintained by the selected village panchayats, and by other important departments and institutions, such as the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) centres, primary schools, health centres, revenue offices, agricultural offices and Block development offices. They conducted interviews on the process of record-keeping and use of accumulated data with officials from panchayats, officers of other departments, Block Development Officers, ICDS officials, and land revenue and agricultural officials. The study attempts to understand the current and potential use of such records in decentralized development planning, the periodicity at which the records are updated, and the reliability and accuracy of such records.

A specific and unique aspect of the book is its attempt to evaluate the accuracy of certain panchayat-level databases. In order to assess the reliability of important household-level databases available with the panchayat, such as ICDS registers, Civil Registration System birth registers, and BPL (below poverty line) survey data, the authors conducted a micro-discrepancy analysis that compared the panchayat data with data collected by the Foundation for Agrarian Studies in the two villages.

Aparajita Bakshi

Aparajita Bakshi, Associate Professor, RV University, Bengaluru.

Jun-ichi Okabe

Jun-ichi Okabe is Professor, Graduate School of International Social Sciences, Yokohama National University and Professor, Faculty of Economics, Yokohama National University.