From the style of presentation of key economic trends to the use of numerous new indices, this year's Survey has changed it all. Even the change in the basic colour scheme - from all blue in the previous few years to a mix of vibrant shades of brown, blue, green and even violet - the Survey reflects the thinking and style of Subramanian himself and that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too.
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The Survey has moved away from traditional ways of data presentation through tables and bar graphs to a more modern scheme of data visualisation through heavy use of scatter diagrams, pie charts and histograms, in Modi's style of promotion. The cover design uses numerous icons - provided by a professional design agency called Noun Project - including those of a tractor, a mother holding her infant and an electricity transmission tower, speaking of the key focus areas of the current government.
As if to highlight the larger context, the cover has a brightly coloured map of India placed against the larger, but almost dull background of the world map, representing the country as what the document inside calls "a haven of stability in a gloomy international landscape". This year's Survey is also bulkier with 543 pages against last year's 427-page Survey. Also, the number of chapters has gone up to 20 from 19.
The Survey is structured in two volumes - a format in use since 1991-92. While the second volume with nine chapters is the conventional Survey in line with the trend, the first volume highlights the government's key priority areas. While the last year's Survey had separate chapters on Make in India and the railways sector, this year's Survey has new and dedicated chapters on the agriculture, fertiliser, and power sectors and 'mother and child' as its highlights.
While last year's Survey had coined the acronym JAM - for Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile - as new modes of subsidy, benefits transfer and financial inclusion, this year's Survey has a chapter titled 'Spreading JAM Across the Economy'. The chapter talks about Aadhaar coverage, use of direct benefit transfer of subsidies and a new index to measure states' JAM preparedness.
And, all of this is shown through numerous maps of India with shaded areas representing the statistical variables - a technique called 'choropleth' in modern data visualisation lingo.
True to his style, Subramanian has dropped catchy phrases to highlight crucial issues. The Survey has likened the Indian economy in the 21st century to the 'Chakravyuh' legend of Mahabharata - the ability to enter but not exit - cautioning the country is facing adverse consequences due to the lack of a way out for failed ventures in a separate chapter, The Chakravyuh Challenge of Economy.
Another key feature of this year's Survey is the focus on stating the current position on issues without prescribing a solution. The Survey forecasts the economy would grow between seven per cent and 7.75 per cent in 2016-17.
It said 'credibility and optimality' favour sticking to next year's fiscal deficit target of 3.5 per cent of GDP. This year's Survey would also be remembered for its little focus on the services sector and the emphasis on preferential trade agreements.
- Significant change in data presentation style - from colour scheme to modern visualisation of graphs
- Use of icons on the cover to highlight focus on agriculture, maternal health and power sector
- Use of catchy phrases to highlight trends - the Chakravyuh Challenge of Economy
- Brightly coloured map of India placed against a dull World map, representing "a haven of stability in a gloomy international landscape"