Economic Survey Calls On Govt To Treat Data As Public Good

Economic Survey

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The Economic Survey has called on the government to treat data as a ‘public good’ to harness its benefits in providing social welfare.


  • The Survey specifically mentions education and health sectors where the benefits of data can be used.
  • For example, a village person having knowledge about the nearest hospitals by using a mobile app can take a patient for emergency care immediately.
  • Data as a public good, in essence, will provide ‘ease of living’ to the people.
  • On the question of why data as a public good, the Survey said that the private sector cannot internalize the benefits of data into social sectors like education and health.

Data Privacy

  • The Economic Survey states that the data for social interest is generated by the people, of the people, and for the people and there are sophisticated technologies to protect privacy. 
  • This is why data as a public good is possible within the current legal framework, the survey has said.
  • It has also said that there is a necessity to look into privacy implications and fairness in the usage of data. It calls that ensuring privacy for intimate data is different from that of anonymised public data.

Data as The New Oil

  • Comparing data as the new oil, the survey notices that India is at the cusp of a data revolution and a whole lot of services will be available using the data. Also, data analysis and data mining will generate new jobs.

Benefits With Technology

  • Citing the example of e-NAM and DBT, the Survey notes that technology has benefited the government in many ways.
  • It helped improve end-to-end governance, timely transfer of funds, helped in plugging leakages and identify the beneficiaries etc.
  • Public service delivery can be improved with real-time storage of data.


It is true that data is the new oil now. The private sector is thriving on the vast amounts of data generated every second. But, they invest only in areas where they see profits. Social sector services like education, health and passport are areas where data as a public good will accrue benefits. Hope the recommendation will be taken by the government with earnest intent.

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