Data, they say, is the new oil. It undergirds much of the modern economy and, increasingly, the polity. There’s hardly a socioeconomic sector that big data doesn’t drive today, from the cutting edge of scientific research and technology to the mundane chore of buying groceries. The sheer volume of data generated daily, however, is so enormous that a whole industry has grown around extracting meaningful information from it. At the heart of this industry are projects bridging data collection and analysis.
One such project is the , which was launched in Delhi on January 31. The portal – incubated at the Bharti Institute of Public Policy, Indian School of Business; developed by data science consulting firm Gramener, and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – is an online repository of processed public datasets on India’s socioeconomic indicators and agriculture.
The portal’s launch, at the India International Centre, was accompanied by a panel discussion on “Data and Journalism”. The panel comprised Ritu Kapur, co-founder of the Quint; Avik Saha, founding member of Swaraj Abhiyan; Anand S, CEO of Gramener; and Avik Sarkar, visiting associate professor at the Indian School of Business. The discussion was moderated by Abhinandan Sekhri of Newslaundry.
Access to data is not enough, the panellists emphasised; journalists must be trained to understand, interpret and find stories from data. “It is an important resource in these times when the credibility of news is under scrutiny,” said Sekhri, “and authentic credible data source like IDP is a valuable resource we should all depend on. While agriculture is great, I can’t wait for the crime data.”
As for the credibility of the data the IDP aggregates, Saha noted that “questioning the credibility of data in India is a political debate”. He added, “The credibility of the data may not be questioned as data in India is collected through the statistical system with a robust methodology.”
Going forward, the IDP aims to diversify by adding data on financial inclusion and rural development. It’s also working to make “credible publicly available data” more accessible and interactive.
Editor’s note: Newslaundry was the event partner of the launch.