Economic Survey Has Gone Through 'Great Deal Of Evolution Over The Years'

Economic Survey Has Gone Through 'Great Deal Of Evolution Over The Years'

by PTI - Monday, January 31, 2022 04:54 PM IST
Economic Survey Has Gone Through 'Great Deal Of Evolution Over The Years'Economic survey

New Delhi, Jan 31 (PTI) Beginning as a less than 50-page document in the 1950s, the Economic Survey has evolved over the years, running into hundreds of pages providing a detailed analysis of the economy and prescribing policy measures to deal with challenges.

The latest survey prepared by a team led by Principal Economic Adviser Sanjeev Sanyal is a single volume with a separate set of statistical tables as against two volume formats seen in the previous years.

The survey was first published in 1950-51 and was initially part of the budget documents. The document was less than 50 pages in the 1950s and contained a brief outline of economic developments of the previous year.

For example, the survey of 1957-58 had just 38 pages. It was primarily descriptive and contained little in the way of analysis and policy prescriptions, said the document tabled by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament on Monday.

'The Economic Survey has gone through a great deal of evolution over the decades,' it said.

From 1958-59, the length of the survey started increasing with the introduction of more charts and tables. A Hindi translation also seems to have been initiated around this time. The ambition of the document increased significantly in the sixties.

The survey of 1962-63 was divided into two parts where the first part focused on broader economic developments while the second part gave a basic analysis of different sectors.

'The following year, the Economic Survey was separated from the budget and was presented a day earlier as a stand-alone document. This was the first survey that saw the introduction of a statistical appendix. The sixties also saw several experiments with the format,' the survey said.

In some years, the sections were done with themes such as Recession and Measures of Revival, Control of inflation, and Food Shortage. In other years, it was done with sectoral sections such as Industry, Agriculture and Prices.

By 1970, the length of the Economic Survey had already crossed 150 pages with a detailed list of tables. The format was further refined in the seventies and eighties with sections being transformed into chapters.

'This is the phase that developed the format that is broadly recognisable today. The 1980s saw a consistent rise in the length of the document with the introduction of new chapters. By 1990, the length of the Economic Survey had reached close to 250 pages, including the statistical appendix,' it added.

The Indian economy went through a major crisis and subsequent reforms in 1991, and the Economic Survey of 1991-92 was eagerly awaited.

This was the first survey that was brought out in two volumes although the first volume was a short booklet of 27 pages that highlighted the macroeconomic problems facing the country while the second volume reviewed the various sectors in detail.

In subsequent years, the survey reverted to one volume with a few modifications in the number of chapters. The beginning of the 21st century saw another transformation of the Economic Survey with introduction of better graphics and brighter colours.

The length of the survey, meanwhile, crossed 380 pages by the early 2000s.

In 2011-12, the document was 485 pages spread over thirteen chapters and the statistical appendix. In 2013-14, the statistical appendix was separated out and published as a separate volume.

In the following year, the survey was presented as two volumes: Volume 1 had a number of chapters addressing topical policy concerns while Volume 2 carried the traditional Economic Survey along with the statistical appendix.

This format was continued till last year with the length of the document steadily going up.

Moreover, an attempt was made in the last three surveys to ensure that the Volume 1 chapters adhered to a broad theme rather than appearing as stand-alone papers. The Economic Survey 2020-21 consisted of 335 pages in Volume 1, 368 pages in Volume 2 and a statistical appendix of 174 pages - a total of 877 pages.

'The two volume format did allow space for bringing in new ideas and themes but, at almost 900 pages, it was also becoming unwieldy. It was also felt that the thematic chapters of Volume 1 were not adequately linked to the sectoral chapters of Volume 2.

'Therefore, this year's survey reverts to a single volume plus a separate volume for the Statistical Appendix,' Sanyal said in the preface to the survey.

Along with the sectoral chapters, a new chapter has been added that demonstrates the use of satellite and geo-spatial images to gauge various economic phenomenon – urbanisation, infrastructure, environmental impact, farming practices and so on.

The idea of having a separate volume for the statistical appendix is to give it a distinct identity as the one-stop source of authentic data.

'It is hoped that it will evolve in the next few years to include new kinds of socio-economic data in line with the emphasis on a feedback loop approach,' he added.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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