India’s statistical performance on the global stage

India’s statistical performance on the global stage


The World Bank’s Statistical Performance Indicators (SPI) placed India 67th among 174 countries in 2019. This evaluation highlights both India’s strengths and areas needing improvement in SPI. This article emphasizes the significance of SPI assessment for global competitiveness and offers recommendations for enhancing key aspects. Furthermore, it advocates for better representation to the World Bank to refine SPI.


GS – 02 (Important International Institutions, Effect of Policies & Politics of Countries on India’s Interests)

Mains Question:

Evaluate India’s performance in the World Bank’s Statistical Performance Indicators (SPI) assessment in 2019 and discuss the implications for its national statistical system and global competitiveness. Suggest measures to improve India’s ranking in SPI. (250 words)

Dimensions of the Article:

  • Understanding SPI and Its Dimensions
  • India’s SPI Scores in 2019
  • The Significance of ‘Data Use’
  • The Importance of ‘Data Products’
  • Assessing ‘Data Infrastructure’
  • ‘Data Services’ and ‘Data Sources’ Performance
  • SPI Score’s Relevance

Understanding SPI and Its Dimensions:

  • The World Bank compiles SPIs to assess the performance of national statistical systems across 174 countries.
  • SPI evaluates five dimensions, referred to as the “five pillars” of a national statistical system: Data use, Data services, Data products, Data sources, and Data infrastructure.

India’s SPI Scores in 2019:

  • In 2019, India received an overall SPI score of 70.4, ranking 67th among assessed countries. However, a closer look at the pillar-wise scores reveals weaker performance in ‘Data use’ and ‘Data products,’ resulting in rankings of 101 and 105, respectively.

The Significance of ‘Data Use’:

  • ‘Data use’ evaluates how various sectors, including the government, civil society, and international bodies, utilize statistics generated by the system. India’s performance in this pillar depends on data usage by international bodies.
  • While India excels in some aspects, it loses points due to unavailability of comparable poverty estimates for the World Bank over the last decade.

The Importance of ‘Data Products’:

  • The ‘Data Products’ pillar focuses on essential data required for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • India has initiated steps to improve in this area, conducting surveys to collect data on SDGs.

Assessing ‘Data Infrastructure’:

  • In ‘Data Infrastructure,’ India scores 55, ranking 73. This pillar encompasses areas like Legislation and Governance, Standards and Methods, Skills, Partnership, and Finance.
  • India performs well in legislation and governance but lags in standards and financial support.

‘Data Services’ and ‘Data Sources’ Performance:

  • India excels in ‘Data Services’ with a score of 88, ranking 35. ‘Data Sources’ also score high at 68.9, ranking 31. These pillars assess censuses and surveys, administrative data, and geospatial data.
  • Censuses and surveys contribute most to India’s ranking, while administrative data’s lower score is due to low birth registration coverage.

SPI Score’s Relevance:

  • The SPI score for 2019 underscores India’s strength in censuses and surveys compared to administrative data. A thorough examination of SPI is essential for identifying areas of improvement.
  • Setting attainable goals could significantly improve rankings. Proactive engagement with the World Bank to enhance the SPI’s robustness is crucial, including using reliable sources for data estimation.

Way Forward:

Achieving a substantial increase in scores in critical pillars like ‘Data products,’ ‘Data use,’ and ‘Data infrastructure’ is essential to improve India’s ranking. India should also strengthen its collaboration with the World Bank for a more accurate SPI assessment.


The SPI assessment offers valuable insights into India’s national statistical system and its global competitiveness. India’s performance in 2019 reveals strengths and weaknesses, emphasizing the need for focused improvements. By addressing these shortcomings and actively engaging with international organizations like the World Bank, India can enhance its standing in the global statistical landscape.