Highlighting the power 'data' holds in today 's world, the Chief Economic Advisor Krishnamurthy Subramanian, on Thursday, has said that the government must invest heavily in data to enhance 'public good', addressing a press conference after the Economic Survey was tabled in the Rajya Sabha by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
"A key thing we're now witnessing is the power of data. In the current scenario, it has become very important. In the chapters we have a section about data of the people, by the people, for the people, thus thinking of data as a public good," he said.
Explaining the power of data with examples, Subramanian said that data can be used for medical emergencies to loan approval minimizing government interference through 'apps'.
"Let's take two scenarios. One- A lady in a rural village who can access on her smartphone data about the nearby hospitals, the quality of healthcare given. This data can be life-saving for villagers in case of medical emergencies. Similarly, a farmer can use an app to request loans, set terms and give permission to the bank to decide whether to grant the loan or not. All this is done without the interference of the government by using Fintec to access his data and decide. That is the power data can really provide to the public good," he added.
Suggesting the government to heavily invest in data, he said that data could be used to do public good as costs have gone low but benefits have rocketed.
"As the cost of data has gone down but its benefits have gone high, the government should be investing in data to enhance the public good. They should invest in a scale equal to developing roads, ports, infrastructure, etc," he said.
In the Economic Survey released by the government, the chapter titled - Data “Of the People, By the People, For the People”, invoking the spirit of the Constitution, speaks how government intervention is needed in social sectors of the country where private investment in data remains inadequate.
The chapter explains how the government while possessing an enormous amount of data on the citizens, does not have a centralised system which has an integrated subset of all the data it possesses, thus facilitating better distribution of schemes to the citizens.
Governments already hold a rich repository of administrative, survey, institutional and transactions data about citizens, but these data are scattered across numerous government bodies. Utilising the information embedded in these distinct datasets would inter alia enable the government to enhance ease of living for citizens, enable truly evidence-based policy, improve targeting in welfare schemes, uncover unmet needs, integrate fragmented markets, bring greater accountability in public services, generate greater citizen participation in governance, etc.
The survey points out that while social websites use Big Data for major decisions, the investment of the private players in fields like agriculture, banking, infrastructure is minimal which should be increased.