What is Economic Survey?

Economic survey is presented every year shortly before presenting the Union Budget. This document sets the backdrop for the Budget. The rationale of an Economic survey is that the Parliament can better appreciate the Budget proposals with the background Knowledge provided by the Survey. Economic Survey also provides an opportunity for the government to spell out its economic agenda.

India’s first economic survey was presented for the financial year 1950- 51. We can find the Economic Survey documents from the finance ministry website from 1957-58 onwards. Before 1964, Economic Survey was circulated along with the Budget documents. However, from 1964 onwards, it was de-linked from the budget and circulated in advance, so that a context to the budget can be provided.

The first draft of the economic survey is prepared by the department of economic affairs in the finance ministry. Then, this draft is cleared by the Chief Economic Advisor and secretary of economic affairs. The final version is scrutinized by the Finance Secretary and Finance Minister. Most of the data are given by Central Statistical Office (CSO) of Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MOPSI).

Difference between Budget and Economic Survey

The constitution of India neither uses word budget or economic survey. Article 112 says that every year the president of India shall cause to be laid in parliament an “annual financial statement”. This statement and some other documents are commonly called budget. Thus, while budget is a constitutional obligation for Union government, Economic Survey is neither a constitutional nor statutory obligation. Further, while budget is prepared in utmost secrecy in the North Block, which houses finance ministry; Economic Survey is printed outside in one of the government presses. Most of its data is already in public domain, so there is no secrecy about it.

Economic Survey 2016-17

The Economic Survey 2016-17  is a 335 page single volume document with 14 chapters. It has been divided into 3 sections viz. Perspective, The Proximate, and The Persistent. It has also an added section called “Eight Interesting Facts About India“.

Economic Survey highlights its piracy at Amazon

Economic Survey’s official paperback copy is published by Oxford University Press. However, numerous unauthorized publishers have sold the pirated copies of the survey on online e-commerce sites such as Amazon.in last year. Survey has  highlighted this issue in its preface saying – “There is indeed a higher form of flattery than imitation: brazen pirating”

We note here that if government wishes, they can collaborate with Amazon or other such sites to get the pirated copies delisted. However, this was not done. Interestingly, the authors of the survey console themselves with these lines – “anguish suffered by this violation of our intellectual property rights was more than offset by the gratitude we felt in achieving wide circulation for the Survey. We strive to do better this year, risking that the Survey might be consigned to the ranks of popular fiction.”

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