1, Council House Street . Kolkata 700001
The chequered history of evolution, developments, transformations and coming of age of the DIRECTORATE GENERAL OF COMMERCIAL INTELLIGENCE AND STATISTICS has been a mammoth exercise spread over a span of one hundred and forty years and carried out under the stewardship of capable and pragmatic visionaries. The Organization traces its origin to a statistical branch established in the Finance Department of the Government of India way back in 1862. Sir William W. Hunter was the first DG of the DGCI & S or the Director General of Statistics as he was designated, back in 1871. The process of progress and refinement of the methodology began as early as in 1902 when notable contributions for methodological improvement were made. In 1905, emphasis shifted from statistics to commercial intelligence. Thanks to the many faceted developments that took place during the following decades under the auspices of the UN in the fields of organization and management alongside the blending of economic theories with statistical techniques and tools, it was realised that there was no need for an artificial dichotomisation between economic-commercial intelligence and statistics in the focal organization like the DGCI & S any longer. Therefore, in 1925 the two wings were merged and the Directorate of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics came into being.
History of the DGCI & S is the history of introduction and unfailing continuation of various trade related statistical and other compilations and publications. In doing so the Directorate has supplemented the Government of India’s trade and export promotion programs by providing an intelligent information system. In addition the DGCI & S has been engaged in various other export promotional activities since it’s inception. These activities also encompass dissemination and analysis of trade information. The following paragraphs provide glimpses of the genesis and growth of its main publications and activities.
The publications containing commodity-country wise compilation of India’s external trade statistics stands out as the organization’s highly used publications. This statistics is being compiled since the inception of the Organization. But the metamorphosis of information structure on trade data signifies the huge leap that DGCI&S has taken in the field of information. Prior to partition separate accounts of Exports and Imports were kept for less than 10 product groups. Today the trade data is compiled at 8-digit ITC (HS) level covering around eleven thousand products. Statistics of Indian Foreign Trade used to be published till December 1956 along with other statistics in a monthly publication called “Monthly Accounts Relating To Foreign Trade And Navigation In India”. After several renaming, this publication is available today as ‘Monthly Statistics of Foreign Trade of India (MSFTI)’. A separate publication called the ‘Supplement to the Monthly Statistics of Foreign Trade of India’ was introduced in 1960, the Volume II of which contained the trade statistics of principal countries in terms of commodities. Today the publication is available as the ‘Statistics of Foreign Trade of India by countries (SFTIC)’. A landmark change in the history of publication of foreign trade statistics came in the year 1981. DGCI&S has been bringing up a monthly brochure entitled ‘Foreign Trade Statistics of India (Principal Commodities and Countries)’ since this year. This publication is perhaps the most sought after publication of this Directorate today.
A word or two on the computerization of our vast statistical data is in order here as DGCI & S witnessed a quantum leap in terms of computerization of its basic foreign trade statistics at this juncture. In April 1984, a decision was taken on the computerization of this office and the process of implementation was initiated in early 1985. Finally, the data processing system entered the modern era of electronic data processing with the installation of the microcomputer in 1987 and, thereafter, a mainframe computer in 1991.
The Indian Trade Journal, Interstate Movements of Goods by Rail, River and Air, etc are some of the other time honoured publications of this organization. The glorious tradition of our weekly publication, namely, the ‘Indian Trade Journal’ began in April 5, 1906. This unique Journal on Government tenders and various trade related issues is still published on the Wednesday of every week. It is really a matter of awed interest to note that this weekly Journal has never missed a single week throughout its ninety-seven years of existence. The publication presently called ‘Interstate Movements/Flows of Goods by Rail, River and Air’ which was earlier known as ‘Accounts relating to the Inland (Rail and River borne) Trade Consignments of India’ is one of the oldest publications of this organization dating back to 1917. ‘Directory of Indian Exporters’ was another important publication of this organization, the first issue of which was brought out in 1919.The Directory had been discontinued.
Ever aware and pliant to the changing needs of time, DGCI & S has made alterations and new additions in the list of its immensely useful publications as and when required. The publication on coasting trade is a very old publication of this office. But prior to 1957, the data used to be published in the publication ‘Accounts relating to Coasting Trade and Navigation of India’. A new publication, devoted exclusively to coasting trade, called ‘Statistics of the Inland Coasting Trade Consignment of India’ was introduced in 1957. The supplementary publication known as the ‘Supplement to the Monthly Statistics of Foreign Trade of India’ introduced in 1960, has already been referred above. Volume I of the supplementary publication showed certain selected statistics on foreign trade. This volume was renamed in 1973 and since then the publication is known as ‘Selected Statistics of Foreign Trade of India’. Another new publication on shipping statistics, namely, ‘Statistics of Maritime Navigation of India’ was introduced in the year 1957. After the year 1965, these statistics were published as appendices to MSFTI. But again a new publication called the ‘Statistics of Foreign and Coastal Cargo Movements of India’ was introduced in 1966. A separate publication on ‘Statistics of the Customs and Excise Revenue Collections of the Indian Union’, as it is now known, was introduced in 1973. All these publications are regularly published by us even today.
Following the changes in the international classification norms, classification of traded commodities has undergone many changes, leading to revised editions of our publication on Trade Classification System. The Indian Trade Classification was introduced in January 1957. This compilation saw a major improvement in 1977 as India responded in the international efforts at comparability and harmonization of information. India adopted the Indian Trade Classification based on the United Nations Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) increasing the number of commodity classifications to a whopping 4850. Again, following the international Classification System known as Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System evolved by the World Customs Organisation previously known as Customs Co-operational Council, Brussels, India is following an extended version of the above system of classification called the Indian Trade Classification based on Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System since 1987. The revised edition effective from 1st of January 1996 was published in December 1995.
The quarterly magazine ‘Vaanijya’ launched in December 2001 had been discontinued. This publication has been started with an aim to provide value added information services based on our vast reservoir of statistical database. The First Edition of the ‘Directory of Indian Importers’ had been brought out in 2002, with a view to provide another important link in the chain of information services provided by this organization. This Directory had also been discontinued. The Exporter/Importer Directory in the new form will be launched shortly.
Besides, the DGCI & S undertakes many other activities relating to promotion of exports. Since its inception, ‘dissemination of trade statistics’ has been an important activity of the Directorate. Port-wise, country-wise and commodity-wise foreign trade data at various levels of commodity-group disaggregation are available for the users today. International bodies, like the ESCAP, FAO, WTO, IMF, UNSD, etc, Central and State Government Ministries, and Departments, Commodity Boards, EPCs, individual firms, and researchers, are all users of this data. Similarly, collection and dissemination of commercial information to the commercial public as well as to the government and semi-government organizations have been among the principal services offered by the Directorate. Over time their has been a change in the nature and composition of enquiries received, but even today, this forms an integral part of the Directorate's activities. Mediation in, and settlement of, commercial disputes is another long-standing function of the Directorate. Till March 1976, this was the sole Government agency undertaking this type of activity. Today, Export Promotion Councils, Commodity Boards, etc. can also undertake this job. Computation of Index Numbers of Foreign Trade of India is another very old activity of this organization. Prior to January 1957, the Index Numbers used to be published with 1952-53 as base with export and import baskets of 16 and 17 commodity groups respectively. In 1987, the commodity basket was changed to 1075 export items (at 8-digit level HS classification) and 974 import items (at 8-digit level HS classification). Another important responsibility was added to the Directorate’s work, namely, scrutinizing and examining the merit of nominations for the National Export Awards. This is done on the basis of certain criteria laid down by the Ministry of Commerce. The scheme is in operation since 1967.
Any documentation of the history of the DGCI & S would not be complete without reference to its Commercial Library. This is a commercial and technological reference library, established way back in 1919. The Library has a name and prestige of its own and serves a clientele comprising of businessmen, industrialists, students, teachers, and research workers in commerce and allied subjects.
Ours has been a history of achievements and triumph over obstacles, a history of one hundred and fifty years of dedicated service to provide the right impetuous to our nation’s trade. The tradition still continues. The DGCI&S has witnessed certain revolutionary developments in recent years. The voluminous database was transferred from mainframe computer to the latest SUN SOLARIS system. VSAT and LAN have been installed. Personnel have been trained to work on computer. A great achievement of the recent past is in terms of reducing the time lag of some of our important publications. Our statistical publications namely ‘Monthly Statistics of Foreign Trade of India (MSFTI)’ and the weekly Journal namely “The Indian Trade Journal” were coming out with considerable lag. The “The Indian Trade Journal” has been put back on rail and for the past two years or more and it is available on the Wednesday of every week without fail. The time lag in case of the statistical publication mentioned above has been considerably reduced and has been brought down to around three months.
This dynamic process of evolution and growth is our glorious past, our present, and is our commitment for the future. We at the DGCI & S, with dedication in our hearts, and empowered with skill and experience are determined to strive for excellence in our service to the nation.