Month: November 2014

DJ Showcase: IndiaSpend

In an earlier post on data journalism in India, DataJourno founder had pointed out that though data journalism is still nascent in India, some of the work that Indian data journalists were doing were noticeable.

The post had actually given a list of top data journalism sites in India, listing IndiaSpend right on top but lamenting the fact that it was not being updated frequently.

We are happy to see the site once again becoming active with lots of new stories. DataJourno specifically wanted to showcase two stories.

The first, Is Data Noise Drowning Out The Chinkara’s Sneeze? goes deeper than just data analysis to raise a bigger question, extremely relevant in the Indian context. That is – whose data do you believe, when it comes to public issues?

The Rajasthan forest department’s chinkara census shows an 11% rise in the animal’s numbers over three years to 2013, while counting done by biologist Dr Sumit Dookia, who has spent about 15 years studying the chinkara, shows a 43% decline in its numbers in six representative sample sites.

The second, in its site, factchecker,in, Congress-NCP Govt Has Built More Houses Than It Claims!, actually digs up data to show that the previous Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra actually built more houses than it claimed. The former ruling combine took credit for building more than 4 lakh homes during its rule. In reality, it built more than a million homes, according to data obtained by IndiaSpend.

On the face of it, it is irrelevant now, as the elections are over and the former ruling alliance was decisively defeated. But it is important because this shows that if the political parties are sensitized, they can make more credible claims and counter each claim with data. Data is a great tool to fight propaganda, far better than raising your voice or making sarcastic comments.

Meanwhile, DataJourno has faltered on regular updation. Our apologies. We expect to be more regular from fourth week of December onwards

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And you thought it’s BJP that builds all the roads?

Its supporters claim a BJP rule is the best bet for rapid infrastructure development; its critics say it does so to “show off” its achievement at the expense of social sectors. But both tend to agree that BJP governments do build infrastructure as a priority.

That could be one of the biggest myths, if one goes by real data, rather than perceptions. According to the recently released Infrastructure Statistics 2014 report by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI), five out of the top seven large states where the road density is maximum have never been ruled by the BJP. From the rest two, UP was ruled by BJP long back while Punjab has been ruled by its ally, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

Here are the states with the best road infrastructure, as measured by road density (kilometer road length per 1000 square km area).

Road1

The data about the states with lowest road density reveal a completely different picture, though. From the seven large states with lowest road density in India, three (Gujarat, MP, and Chhatisgarh) are being ruled by BJP for long. Three more, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan have been ruled  by BJP and others alternatively. Only Jammu & Kashmir, a largely hilly state, has not been ruled by the party ever.

Road2

As they say, there’s three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the facts.