India is a vast country. In increasing order of granularity, it is broken into states, districts, sub-districts and villages/wards. There’s agreement among the country’s official data gatherers on the first geographical level: the number of states India has. But drill down to the second level—districts—and you will encounter a conundrum that is the nightmare of every person using data to do a meaningful analysis.
The answer to the question of how many districts India has depends on who you put this question to. The latest decadal Census exercise, done in 2011, carves out India into 640 districts. But the country’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), counts 644 districts. The state-level Planning Commission bodies, which perform the crucial task of collecting development indictors, stop at 556 districts.
The disparity in the district count presents a problem to those looking at numbers to gauge the health and progress…
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