NEW DELHI: The G20 presidency presents a rare opportunity for India to vocalise needs and demand of the Global South, especially when it comes to discussion and debates on ‘data’.
India’s G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant has advocated for setting up of a “gold standard for data” – a system where governments “self-evaluate” their national data governance architecture. It is time to overhaul national data system to make it transparent and more inclusive of citizen voices. The ultimate goal should be to make it democratic and configured for long-term sustainable development, he said.
Last year, during a side-event of G20 meetings, Deputy SecretaryGeneral Amina Mohammed had hailed India efforts to localise the UN’s SustainableDevelopment Goals. It wasn’t the first time that India’s achievements in public welfare ecosystem had been lauded. Over a decade, India has taken huge strides in integrating data into planning, budgeting, and monitoring at each and every tire of governance.
Work for consensus
Kant argued in favour of keeping the data accessible in public domain. He emphasised that during its G20 presidency, India will work towards building consensus among members for utilisation of data for public good and making it “democrartically accessible, affordable and available for nation-states”.
In a tweet, he wrote: “Data forms the bedrock on which today’s knowledge pyramid rises towards awareness, understanding and finally wisdom which is essential for nuanced and effective policy making. G20India (Presidency) is an opportune time to set a new gold standard for data.”
During its G20 presidency, India would focus on two crucial aspects. The first would be to build a common understanding of sensitive and nonsensitive data and the second, to build a framework that could facilitate sharing of data among countries.
Going by the declaration of previous presidencies and discussions that have taken place in various working groups, it can be ascertained that there is a wide consensus over sharing of public- value data through open repositories. But, a practical and workable solution still needs to be reached regarding data sovereignty, protection and data usage policies.
Why data supremacy?
But, why is everyone going gaga over ‘data’? The supremacy of data lies in its edge over the other alternatives for policy formulation. Previously, public figures have often put ‘hunch’ at the centre of their decisionmaking. Other more refined ways and potential alternatives include ‘anecdotal evidence’, ‘assumptions’, and ‘abstract observation’. While some of them are easier but they lack in accuracy, they function on the principle of trial and error, and often lead to waste of resources. An effective usitlisation of data can bring down the probability of risk involved in the decision-making.