EXPLAINED: India’s annual Economic Survey

EXPLAINED: India’s annual Economic Survey
Economic SurveyBCCL
  • Before presenting the Union Budget in the parliament, the Indian government releases the annual Economic Survey.
  • The Economic Survey throws light on the trends in different sectors and tracks the state of the country’s economic performance in the past one year.
  • The Chief Economic Advisor authors the Economic Survey in India and is later approved by the Union Finance Minister.
In India, the Economic Survey prepares the background framework for the Union Budget. It facilitates a bird’s eye view of the trends noticed in different sectors over the previous year like agriculture, manufacturing, employment, infrastructure, prices, exports, imports, foreign exchange reserve, and money supply for example.

Economic Survey’s objectives

The various objectives of the Economic Survey in India can be summed up under three heads:

  • Reviewing the country’s economic development over the past 12 months.
  • Summarising how the different development projects of the country perform.
  • Highlighting the government’s policy initiatives.

The format of the Economic Survey

After Arvind Subramanian took charge as the Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) of the country, the Economic Survey became a two-volume report and his successor KV Subramanian continued the same trend.

The first volume generally has chapters on the future course of the economy. Therefore, the first volume provides a scope for the CEAs to narrate their views. The second volume lists the country’s economic developments over the past year.


The principal focus of the second volume is to explain the immediate economic issues faced by the different sectors with the help of statistical data. It throws light on the major challenges anticipated along with the solutions presumed.

Trends and practices

The first economic survey was released in the financial year (FY) 1950-51. In the next 14 years that followed, it was presented along with the Union Budget. Starting from 1964, it preceded the budget and was released a day before the budget session in the parliament.

As per some reports, the 2021-22 Economic Survey might get back to its one-volume format after eight consecutive years.

Most probably, this year’s Economic Report might contain the key data for the FY across different industry segments while leaving out the policy prescriptions that are usually a part of the main volume.

Why is the Economic Survey Important?

The Economic Survey is one of the most critical documents in the country’s administration. It gains utmost importance in financial planning as it contains insights on the country’s economic health. It talks about the different economic factors that might impact the budget. This is an invaluable document in highlighting the key concerns about the economy. The Economic Survey also reviews resource allocation in the budget.

Is releasing the Economic Survey mandatory for the government?

The Indian Constitution neither binds the government to present the Economic Survey nor is the government obliged to go with its recommendations. It is completely left to the government to decide if it will adopt or reject the suggestions made in the Economic Survey. We can say the Economic Survey is a kind of report card of the country’s economy and it also serves as the vehicle to promote economic reforms.

Where can we access the Economic Survey?

The document of the Economic Survey is made available to the public in PDF format on the exclusive website for the Union Budget https://www.indiabudget.gov.in/ or on the Finance Ministry’s website https://finmin.nic.in/.

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