People-level data that is representative of all Indians is hard to come by. Critiques and debates around the soundness of policy and the performance of policy makers and governments are typically based on ‘supply side’ actions and supply side outcomes of policy (e.g. kilometres of road built, number of students finishing high school, how much was spent on NREGA and how many takers for it etc.) rather than what ‘people impact’ they had (e.g. resultant changes in income earning methods and amount earned; changes in family well-being and so on). People Research on India’s Consumer Economy (PRICE) setup with a mission to plug this gap and to put people at the centre of economic and public policy.
In 2014, PRICE created its first ‘baseline (Wave 1.0)’ master data platform through the pan Indian ICE 360° Survey “Household Survey on Indian Citizen Environment and Consumer Economy” and repeated in 2016 and 2021. aimed to generate integrated longitudinal data (Interconnected, consistent and up to date) to provide a 360° view of “household’s & people’s” progress on financial conditions (income, expenditure, saving and borrowings), living conditions, access to public goods, amenities, state welfare, health, education, occupational conditions, social and occupational mobility and inclusion in the consumer market economy.
The findings in the form of actionable insights, presentations and reports including the households level data are shared with various stakeholders ranging from policy makers in government, policy advisors, business strategists, media, academic & research institutions including national and international individual researchers. The response to the study was encouraging and reaffirmed our hypothesis that such data and insights were value adding to the various target groups outlined earlier.
Such data yield rich insights not just in one survey but in tracking, in a nuanced and granular fashion, how household well-being has changed over time, what the drivers of these changes have been, what policy measures work slowly over time with what trajectory of effectiveness and so on.
Therefore, the third round was done in 2021, with a larger sample that enabled analysis at state and district levels as well. This was made possible due to the major grant provided by the Jamsetji Tata Trust, which we gratefully acknowledge. In the last few years, armed with two sets of ICE 360° data sets as well as Census and National Sample Survey (NSS) data we have had significant traction in getting the voice of “people data” heard in policy making circles including government and we would like to do the next round after the elections in 2024. This also enables us to get a good reading on what was actually achieved on the ground in 2014, 2016, 2021 (Covid) and 2024. This 2024 data point is also especially critical since it will tell us that how much recovery is done already achieved and also will be the guidepost for India’s growth story.
There are significant learnings we have had from mining this data about how India earns, spends, saves, lives, thinks and accesses public goods. Since PRICE has been set up with the mission to provide longitudinal robust people level data and insights, the proposed round of ICE 360° Survey 2024 is planned to rebuild on the excellent and widely acclaimed work already being done in this arena and to ensure its continuity on which much of the thinking about the Indian Consumer Economy and Citizens’ Environment rests – whether it be in the arena of government policy, business strategy or academic research, not just in India but globally.