The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) faces an acute manpower shortage thus urging them to put out a job hiring advertisement for over 1,000 jobs. The move to look for for field investigators on contract basis who will conduct socio-economic surveys in Union Territories and 27 states has raised concerns.
A survey on price trends, annual survey for industries, and agricultural statistics will be conducted by NSSO’s Field Operations Division (FOD) together with the field investigators. “There is nearly a 30 per cent shortage for field investigators in the NSSO as the high educational qualifications, modest pay and few promotions do not attract enough talent,” stated a senior official, adding that the FOD has a staff strength of 4,000.
In addition, NSSO have invited agencies form 27 states to provide field investigators on a contract basis that will cover a two year period that would end on December 2014. In order to work as field investigators, a candidate should have a bachelors degree in mathematics or commerce, statistics, and economics. Maharashtra has the largest vacancy of 163, next is Andhra Pradesh with 114, and Gujarat with 81.
“We tend to use contract based field investigators whenever there is a shortage. But the contract staff is trained and brought at par with regular staff to ensure that the quality of data does not get affected,” a senior official from the statistics ministry stated.
However, according to many experts, the use of contract staff affects the quality of the survey because their understanding of grass root issues as regular enumerators of the NSSO may vary. “We need to strengthen the statistical system not through sub-contracting for field level investigators but by appointing more regular workers as the quality of data from the NSSO is of crucial importance to the national plan,”Amitabh Kundu, the dean of the School of Social Sciences at Jawaharlal Nehru University and a member of the National Statistical Commission said.
The concerns over the volatile nature of macro economic data which hinders decisions on monetary policy has been raised as well by The Reserve Bank of India. RBI governor D Subbarao has pointed to the sharp volatility in the numbers for the index of industrial production and revisions in inflation data and GDP calculations.
However, the statistics ministry has been trying to get more regular staff “We are trying to hold additional examinations for the Subordinate Statistical Service. The Staff Selection Commission has already selected 600 candidates for the service this year of which we expect 400 to join,” the official stated.