Tag Archives: Government

Making Public Service BIG with #BigData

3 Months back while the world was watching, amidst much hype, a new government announced its success with a lot of promise to one and all.

One of those promises was that of minimum government, maximum governance. This statement is as audacious as much as it’s succinct. The new government promises to reinvent public service, making it more efficient, introducing transparency and steadier and sustainable growth. With a government more tech-embracing than ever and the advent of fingertip technology to the people, a lot can be hoped. How much is achieved is yet to be seen.

To solve a problem, knowing the problem clearly is the key. This key is held by the huge loads of Data that we have hidden in the organizational silos of our government. At Gramener, we attempt to solve this problem through richer, better data-driven insights, making it available to the common Joe. The advent of Big Data in today’s world is not unknown. Big Data is a term that everyone is using today. From board rooms to college canteens, it’s now become the buzz in the more privileged world.

Making Public Service Big With Big Data

Fraud Detection

Some stats to put the problem at hand in perspective:

$314 billion is what India loses from tax evasion annually, depriving it of funds for investment in roads, ports and power.7 With so little revenue, the government must borrow more to fund a planned $1 trillion five-year infrastructure program.

$462 Billion is what India lost due to tax evasion, crime and corruption post-Independence.

Click here to see more on govt. spending.

The more startling fact is that this money is not only from the big-scale frauds that we read about in the dailies. Small, unreported frauds add up and form such bizarre numbers.

What if we could track these numbers to their last rupee like in the financial services industry? What if we could have systems to detect irregularities in each micro-transaction? Government should invest in the infrastructure to capture data from all corners of the government machinery to one place. Read about how the UK govt saved 33bn a year using Big Data Analytics.

How about Internal Security?

CCTV footages, RFIDs and scanner machines and other electronic data, although unstructured but when used with deftness, Wirelessly intercepted information, Internet browsing activities can really help extract useful information for analyses to detect crime, terrorist activities and tracking wrongdoers faster and easier and way more efficient.

Law enforcement agencies need to adapt to such practices for the greater good. This requires a conscious effort towards skill acquisition, training etc but it’s worth the effort.

Public Services

Ever thought of filling that form for your PAN-Card purely online and getting it at your doorstep without hassles. Ever wondered what it means to get updates about that skywalk in your neighbourhood, its status real-time on that smartphone like your Facebook notification.  With multiple sources of data and your details integrated into one place, your updates, services can be more and more personal.

Will there be a time when we realize the above is not a hypotheses alone? Lets hope our governments realize it soon. Watch this space out for some more thoughts on how having the data is the new necessity.

Visualising India’s budget history

As we await the Indian Government’s budget tomorrow, here are some visualisations we created to examine the history of our past budgets.

Working with The Economic Times, we created a view of how the budget breakup has changed by ministry over time.

Sectoral trends

The large pink region is the Economic Affairs ministry, which takes up the bulk of the spend. Though it has been growing in absolute terms, in relative terms, it has been shrinking in importance. You can see the break-up by plan and non-plan breakups at our ET Ministry-wise Budget Allocation page.

Sectoral trends - PlanSectoral trends - Non-plan

In absolute terms, through, the spend on every sector has been growing smoothly and steadily, barring a few kinks. Among these, the agricultural spending is notable. It spurted up in 2009 to Rs 77 cr, but no subsequent budget has spent as much on agriculture.

Sectoral trends - Total

One other change that has happened is the relative rationalisation of budgets between 2002 and 2014. While in 2002 (left), the budget was relatively more concentrated among a few departments such as Economic Affairs, Defence, etc, by 2014, this disparity has reduced marginally.

Sectoral breakup 2001-2002 Sectoral breakup 2013-2014

But how do markets react to the budget?

One way of capturing this information is to look at how the market capitalisation of companies has moved on the day of the budget. For example, on the day of the 2007 budget, every single sector’s market capitalisation fell, with the sole exception of Tobacco. The exact same thing happened on the day of the 2009 budget as well.

Market movement 2007 Market movement 2009

But on the day of the 2010 budget, there was a perfect reversal of the situation. Every sector except Tobacco improved, while Tobacco (in a rare turn of events), lost considerable value.

Market movement 2010

In fact, the Tobacco sector is primarily just a single company – ITC, and its fate often moves counter-cyclically on budget days. But budgets are generally good for ITC. In the last 11 budgets, ITC (and Tobacco) has grown except in 2010. On the other hand, the Media and Entertainment industry typically suffers setbacks on budget day. Barring 2010 and 2011, the market cap of this segment has shrunk on every single budget day in the last 11 years.

Market movement history

For more insights and to explore the history of the Indian Budgets, please visit our site on The Economic Times and on Gramener.com.

Comparing school performance

Continuing the design jams, we had one at Akshara’s office last weekend. The dataset we decided to pursue was the Karnataka SSLC results, which we had for the 5 years.

We addressed two questions:

  1. How do Government schools perform when compared to private schools?
  2. How does the medium of instruction affect marks in different subjects?

When comparing Government and private schools, here’s the result.


Each box is a school. The size of the box represents the number of students from that school who appeared in the Class X exam. (Only schools with at least 60 students were considered.) The colour represents the average mark – red is low, and green is high.

What’s immediately obvious is that private schools perform much better on average than Government schools, what’s less clear is when this difference starts. The series of graphs below show the number of schools at various mark ranges. The first shows schools with an average of 0 – 30%. The next, from 0 – 40%, and so on until 80%. Then it shows schools with an average of 30% – 100%. The next, from 40% – 100%, and so on until 80% – 100%.


From the first graph, you can see that there are as many poor schools (average 0 – 30%) among the private and Government schools. But from the last graph, you can see that there are far more good private schools (average 80 – 100%) than Government schools.

So, there are poor performing schools among the private schools as well. However, there are very few excellent Government schools.

We compared the impact of medium of instruction against the subjects as well. The table below shows boxes for each subject taken under each medium of instruction. The size of the box represents the number of students taking that combination. The colour indicates the average mark (red is low, green is high.)


Clearly, Sanksrit is a high scoring language. (At least one person at the design jam chose Sanskrit for this very reason.) Kannada scores well too – especially as a first or third language; but not as well as a second language.

On average, English medium students have the highest marks, followed by Kannada medium students. Students studying other in mediums of instruction perform poorly in most subjects barring their language.

There’s clearly a strong correlation between the medium and the subject. Kannada medium students score high in Kannada, Urdu medium students shore high in Urdu, and so on. But while English medium students do score high in English, they tend to score much better at Kannada, Urdu and Sanskrit!

You can explore these results at http://gramener/karnatakamarks/