Real-time data key in COVID-19 fight: Niti Aayog's Amitabh Kant

Speaking at India Policy Forum 2020, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant says the government should actively put data in the public domain as debates and discussions will help in taking the right policy decisions.
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Amid rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant on Monday said real-time data would be key in fighting coronavirus as it helps in contact tracing, which is essential for preventing further spread of the disease.

Speaking at India Policy Forum 2020, organised by NCAER, Amitabh Kant said the government should actively put data in the public domain as debates and discussions would help in taking the right policy decisions.

Amitabh Kant, CEO, Niti Aayog



"Data on a real-time basis is very critical. We have been working for the last year-and-half and our experience is that real-time data is really the key. In the time of coronavirus, this becomes even more important...My belief is that it will be very difficult to handle COVID-19 without huge amounts of increased testing and without contact tracing," he said.

The Aarogya Setu app developed at Niti Aayog, with the participation of private sector, is being used to detect COVID-19 hotspots across the country, he said. He added that the app was conceptualised and developed with private sector, but the basic intention throughout was use of data science and contact tracing in a big way.

He said a lot of data was also being used in managing reopening of the economy.

Stressing that data would also be critical in the post-pandemic world, Amitabh Kant said various public-private partnership (PPP) data initiatives were being undertaken.

He informed that the Niti Aayog was working on a National Data and Analytics Platform, which would democratise data across the government.

Stating that the government should actively put out data before the public and academics, the Niti Aayog CEO said "that is the only way we will be able to make right policy decisions".

Later, delivering the second T N Srinivasan Memorial Lecture, Pronab Sen, Program,e Director, International Growth Centre (IGC) India, suggested that the government should take decisions with speed to deal with the crisis of unprecedented nature as "wait and watch could be a bad strategy."

At the moment, the government could rely on models based on available data and approximations, he said, adding that "corrections can be done later".

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)