Data Systems

by Sumandro Chattapadhyay last modified Mar 16, 2019 06:29 AM
The systems and economies of data has emerged as a key concern of the contemporary 'information'/'informatising' societies. In this cluster we explore the various manifestations and implications of digital data in the context of the Indian society and government – supply, demand, and usages of government data; electronic government and data-driven delivery of services; Internet of things, locative media, and smart cities; infrastructures, systems, and circuits of data collection, storage, sharing, and re-usage; and concerns of ownership and privacy around personal data.


Data Systems: All Posts

Ongoing Projects

Urban Data Justice (2019)


Life of a Tuple: National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Reform of Citizen Identification Infrastructure in Assam (2018-2019)

In a relational database, a tuple is an ordered set of data constituting a record. Imagine a relational database as a table with pre-defined columns that define the scope of information required for each row. A tuple is a row in this table. Ultimately, in any database designed to ease practices of governance, the life story of a citizen becomes a tuple after the process of data collection, verification, and curation. This tuple has its own life and this project is designed around documenting its life story, which may or may not map seamlessly onto the life of the citizen that it aims to capture, encode, represent, and ultimately, alter.

Our research investigates the process of updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam as a case study to focus on one of the core problems of governance: the unique identification of citizens by the state. The NRC, as a part of the National Population Register (NPR), is a list of only Indian citizens, and is presently in the process of being updated only in Assam [1]. Our effort is geared towards tracing the process of updating the NRC from its conceptualization and design to its current deployment, while also closely attending to current on-the-ground reactions to its implementation.

Project outputs:

Big Data for Development Network

Big Data for Development (BD4D) Research Network is a Southern-led partnership with the objective of developing policy relevant research on big data for development that is conceptualized and implemented by Southern organizations. The network acts to develop capacity amongst researchers from the Global South, focusing on activities linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to those that address gender related issues. The work encompasses both big data analyses as well as capacity development, while innovating on data partnerships and collaborations with private sector companies and policy makers. The network is supported by a grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada.

As part of the BD4D Network, we at the CIS are studying BD4D innovations, policy, practices, and discourse with a focus on the research methods involved; and offering research and pedagogic support towards other hubs of the Network.

Network website:

Network blog:

Project outputs:


Previous Projects

Big Data and Development - Field Studies


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