Topic-Wise Summary Of Economic Survey For UPSC Civil Services Exam: Building A Robust Data Infrastructure (Part VI)Computer data (representative image)

In Part V of this series, we had summarised half of the chapter 4 of Economic Survey 2019. In this part, we shall continue with the remaining chapter.

After making a case for using data as a “public good”, the survey talks about how the government should move forward with it. The government has four types of data of the citizens maintained by the government as shown in the figure below.

The data collected by government can be categorised as administrative, survey data, transactional and institutional (Source:
The data collected by government can be categorised as administrative, survey data, transactional and institutional (Source:

This data is dispersed among different departments of different ministries without any linkage. Much of it might be in a paper-based form and would not get aggregated for analysis.

The Survey suggests the alternative of ‘Data Access Fiduciary Architecture’ in which user’s consent will be at the centre of the government’s initiative of making data a “public good”.

  • A department must take care to appropriately treat private data and public data with the standards they require
  • Next, it should be made responsible for making available the data to a data requester through a ‘Data Access Fiduciary’
  • Only a data requester with appropriate user consent will be able to access the data
  • Data Access Fiduciary themselves to have no visibility on the data due to end-to-end encryption
  • The choice to share the individually linked data from such services to be with the citizen under this architecture
  • People should be able to opt out of divulging data to the government, where possible
  • Immutable access logs for all data should be available so that citizens know who has seen their data and why

While such a wide range of data of people with the government seems alarming, the survey clarifies that no new data is being collected, only the data that the government already has is being utilised.

The survey also asks for building a robust data infrastructure, transforming the practices of collecting, storing, processing and disseminating the data, as summarised in the figure below.

The Economic Survey also asks for building a robust data infrastructure (Source:
The Economic Survey also asks for building a robust data infrastructure (Source:

The survey says that such a model to extract benrfits from data will benefit all the stakeholders, the government, private sector, and citizens.


  • Governments can improve targeting in welfare schemes and subsidies by reducing both inclusion and exclusion errors
  • They can improve public service delivery

Private sector

  • At least a part of the generated data should be monetised by government for private sector use
  • Datasets may be sold to analytics agencies that process the data, generate insights, and sell the insights further to the corporate sector


  • Citizens will no longer need to run from pillar to post to get “original” documents from the state
  • Citizens can demand their data from public institutions in a machine-readable format, so that it can be used by them meaningfully

This ends the chapter 4 of the Economic Survey 2019. Next, we will continue with remaining chapters of the Survey.

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