Economic Study: From 38 pages to almost 900, and now to 413

The economic survey, which assesses the health and state of the economy, prepares the ground for the Union’s budget. However, contrary to the practice of recent years whereby the Study was published in two volumes, the The 2021-22 Economic Survey has been published in a single volume. Also, interestingly, this year’s survey was prepared by Chief Economic Adviser Sanjeev Sanyal, in the absence of a Chief Economic Adviser – a post to which V Anantha Nageswaran was only appointed on Friday.

What is the history of Economic Research?

In his preface to this year’s Survey, Sanyal noted the background to the document which presents the government’s economic record and suggestions on possible reforms.

The survey was first published in 1950-51 and was less than 50 pages, initially forming part of the budget documents. It contained a brief overview of the economic development of the previous year. The 1957-58 survey was only 38 pages long, Sanyal noted, adding that it was mostly descriptive and contained little analysis and policy prescriptions. Over the decades, the length and content of the Inquiry have continued to expand.

When did the Inquiry begin to be presented in two volumes?

Following the global financial crisis of 2007-08 and 2008-09, an analytical chapter was added on the country’s medium-term challenges and macroeconomic prospects, and more thematic chapters were included to capture these aspects. In 2013-2014, the statistical annex was expanded and published in a separate volume. In 2014-2015, the Economic Survey was presented in two volumes: Volume 1 contained a number of chapters dealing with current political issues, while Volume 2 contained the traditional Economic Survey as well as the statistical annex.

Why has this year’s Inquiry been reduced to a single volume?

Sanyal pointed out that the 2020-21 economic study “has 335 pages in volume 1, 368 pages in volume 2 and a statistical annex of 174 pages – a total of 877 pages!” “As you can see, the Economic Survey has evolved a lot over the decades. The two-volume format left room to bring in new ideas and themes, but, at nearly 900 pages, it also became unwieldy,” he wrote, adding that the thematic chapters in Volume 1 were not sufficiently linked to the sectoral chapters of the volume. 2. This year’s Economic Survey has therefore been reduced to 413 pages.

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Were the previous year’s Economic Studies presented by someone other than the CEA?

Yes, earlier, in July 2014, then-Chief Economic Adviser Ila Patnaik prepared the investigation in the absence of an ACE after Raghuram Rajan’s stint at the RBI months earlier.