Parliamentary Constituencies (PCs) and The Data Gap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Importance of district level data for Policy making and effective functioning of MPs

Central Idea

  • India’s parliamentary constituencies (PCs) serve a dual role as geographical and administrative policy units headed by democratically elected Members of Parliament (MPs), The PCs require timely and available data on critical issues related to population health and socioeconomic well-being. The lack of such data at the PC level hinders MPs from effectively engaging with their constituents to fulfil their needs and aspirations.

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Parliamentary constituencies (PCs)

  • PCs are geographic areas or districts. Each parliamentary constituency is represented by a Member of Parliament (MP), who is elected by the people of that constituency in a general election.
  • The number of seats allocated to each state is based on its population
  • The MP is responsible for representing the interests and concerns of their constituents in the Parliament, and for taking up issues related to their development and well-being.

Who generates data on parliamentary constituencies?

  • Election commission is the primary authority: In India, the Election Commission is responsible for providing timely data on PCs. The ECI works in collaboration with various government departments and agencies, as well as local authorities, to collect and verify data on demographics, geography, and other factors that are relevant to the delimitation of constituencies.
  • Periodic delimitation: The process of delimitation, which involves the division of each state into a certain number of constituencies based on population and other criteria, is carried out periodically by the ECI to ensure that representation in the Lok Sabha is fair and equitable.
  • Census and NFHS: In addition to the Election Commission, various government agencies and departments may also be involved in generating data related to PCs, such as the Census of India, NFHS and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Issue with timely and accessible data of the PCs

  • Lack of Data Availability at the PC Level: India’s 543 PCs require timely and readily available data on population health and socioeconomic well-being. At present, such data is lacking at the PC level.
  • Limitations of National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDAP): With the launch of the NDAP in 2012, the Government of India made an effort to make data related to population health and well-being more accessible. However, district-level data, which has emerged as a key input for policy deliberations, does not help the PC have the same data.
  • Inadequate Representation or overlap of PC Boundaries: The district and PC boundaries do not correspond straightforwardly with each other. The districts and PCs overlap, and a district can have parts of or an entirety of multiple PCs intersecting it.
  • For instance: Approximately, only 28 PCs have the same geometry as the districts, and in the remaining PCs, there are various ways in which districts intersect PCs.
  • Misrepresentation hinders MPs in fulfilling responsibilities in their respective PCs: This misrepresents the constituents’ size and composition and hinders MPs from fulfilling their responsibilities towards their constituents effectively.

Importance of timely and updated district level data

  • Planning and resource allocation: Updated data on districts helps in better planning and allocation of resources, including financial and human resources.
  • For instance: if data shows that a particular district is facing a shortage of doctors, policymakers can allocate more resources to address the issue.
  • Effective implementation of policies: Timely and accurate data helps policymakers to design and implement policies that are better suited to the needs of specific districts.
  • For example: if data shows that a particular district has high levels of malnutrition, policymakers can design and implement a nutrition program that is tailored to that specific district.
  • Monitoring progress: Regularly updated data on districts helps in monitoring progress and assessing the effectiveness of policies and programs implemented in specific districts. If data shows that a particular policy is not producing the desired results, policymakers can make necessary changes or adjustments to the policy.
  • Identifying emerging issues: Timely data on districts can help in identifying emerging issues or challenges. Covid pandemic was good example of district level management of the crisis. This information can help policymakers to take prompt and appropriate action to mitigate the problem.

What needs to be done?

  • Empowering MPs with Accurate Data:
  1. MPs must be empowered with accurate data that relates to the populations they have been elected to serve.
  2. MPs need to liaise with multiple district administrations effectively to function efficiently and independently.
  • District Coordination and Monitoring Committee:
  1. To improve the synergy between district administration and elected representatives, the Ministry of Rural Development issued an order in 2016 to all states and Union Territories to constitute a District Coordination and Monitoring Committee (DDMC), chaired by district MPs.
  2. The DDMC charged with making the implementation and monitoring of central schemes more efficient. However, the data still pertains to districts and not PCs.
  • Addressing the PC Data Gap with an Interactive PC Data Tracker:
  1. A new interactive PC data tracker developed by the Geographic Insights Lab at Harvard University has for the first time provided data on crucial population, health, and well-being estimates for each of the 543 PCs, including a fact sheet for each PC.
  2. The data underlying the PC dashboard comes from the NFHS-4 and NFHS-5 (2019-2021).
  3. The methodology powering the PC tracker provides a solution to the existing PC data gap.
  4. The tracker uses GPS coordinates to map existing NFHS survey clusters onto PC boundary maps, from which indicator prevalence estimates for each PC are estimated.

Way Ahead

  • It is necessary to bridge the data gap at the PC level to enable MPs to serve their constituents efficiently and independently.
  • The new interactive PC data tracker is a useful tool for MPs to understand and prioritize the issues most impacting their communities.
  • A more durable solution would entail that all datasets related to population health and socioeconomic well-being be available at the PC level.


  • In recent years, India’s elected officials have been engaged more extensively in articulating and shaping the policy agenda. Bringing timely and frequent data on issues that matter for population health and well-being to PCs can bring much symmetry and synergy between districts.

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