Ashoka Reflections_SEPTEMBER 2023

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Consolidate data: CEDA aims to be a one-stop window for usable data that connects various datasets and

indicators of the socioeconomic reality of India.

Communicate with data: Disseminate this data to our target audiences: researchers, journalists, civil

society, policymakers and interested lay observers.

Upskill on data: train students, industry, academia, and policymakers in careful and rigorous data analysis.

Data in the modern world is of two types. One is information circulating as “data” or “facts”. We are

surrounded by this, and it is hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. Two, usable, reliable data that clarifies

and informs. For us, the creators of CEDA, the challenge was to identify reliable data and make it usable as

well as informative.

CEDA’s goal or mission statement is to demystify data. We believe that engaging with India’s socio-economic

data should not feel like looking into a crystal ball. Therefore, CEDA has three core objectives:




The first objective meant that we needed to create a data portal that goes beyond creating a repository of raw

data. We needed to create a database of usable summary statistics: means, and percentages that went

beyond national averages. We decided to create an interactive data portal that connects summary statistics

on key indicators across geography (national, state and district levels), time, and demographic characteristics.

The second objective meant that a) users should be able to visualise the data, as pictures speak more strongly

than numbers or words; and b) we needed explainers that focus on the key highlights from a given set of

numbers. That’s how our trademark features were born: Data Narratives, Picture This, Researchers’ Corner;

CEDA-CMIE bulletins etc.

Our First Year

Following background discussions in the Economics department, by the time we actually started recruiting a

small team, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The world as we knew it got upturned. We started with a tiny team on

a shoestring budget that negotiated the complexities of online and remote work amid all the pandemic-

induced insecurities and anxieties.

It was not easy. But you would not be able to tell by looking at Chart 1 which sums up our first year.

Ashoka Reflections | Page 07

Chart 1

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