Explained: What is India’s Economic Survey?

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Earlier today (January 31), the Indian government released the Economic Survey 2022-23, ahead of the Union Budget. The document was tabled by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman a day before she presents the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The pre-budget document was released following Indian President Droupadi Murmu’s address to the joint sitting of the Houses of Parliament. 

What is the Economic Survey?

The Economic Survey is a detailed report of the national economy at the end of a financial year. The pre-budget document will be released by the Indian government’s Chief Economic Adviser (CEA), V Anantha Nageswaran and gives an insight into the state of the country’s economy as well as the outlook for the upcoming year. 

It is prepared by the Economic Division of the Department of Economic Affairs which is a part of the ministry of finance and formulated under the supervision of the CEA. The Economic Survey also highlights major developments in the programmes and government policy initiatives at the end of the financial year. 

When was it first presented?

The first Economic Survey was presented in 1950-51 along with the Union Budget, however, since 1964 the survey has been separated. 

History and changes to the Economic Survey

Previously, the survey was presented in just one volume with chapters dedicated to different key sectors of the economy including agriculture, manufacturing and services. While there were also sections for key policy areas which included employment, inflation, and so on. Notably, this volume also carries a detailed statistical abstract. 

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For nearly a decade between 2010-11 and 2020-21, the pre-budget document was presented in two volumes which also included an intellectual imprint of the CEA and is said to deal with major issues and debates facing the economy. Notably, in 2016-17 the economic survey did not include the detailed financial statistics of the government of India which is usually a part of the pre-budget document. 

Last year’s central theme of the economic survey was the ‘Agile Approach’ that emphasised India’s economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also based on feedback loops, real-time monitoring of actual outcomes, flexible responses, safety-net buffers, and so on, as per the preface of the document. 

Notably, this year’s Economic Survey and Union Budget will be the last of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in its second term before the next Lok Sabha election in 2024. Furthermore, the findings of the upcoming survey will show the true extent of recovery in the Indian economy. 

(With inputs from agencies) 


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