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Avoid further delay in conducting the Census

  • Published
    9th Jan, 2023

The country has experienced the last census in 2011, which is going to complete about more than a decade now. The decade has seen several changes including the socio-economic, political and health needs of people.

Need of the census:

  • The rural-urban distribution of population has been rapidly changing over the years.
  • There is high population growth in the urban areas. Some cities have been growing faster than others through in-migration.
  • The rural-urban distribution of population has been rapidly changing over the years. There is high population growth in the urban areas.
  • Some cities have been growing faster than others through in-migration.
    • For example, areas under the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike grew by 49.3% during 2001-11, while the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (11.9%), the Delhi Municipal Corporation (11.7%), and Greater Chennai Corporation (7.0%) had much lower growth rates.
  • Kolkata Municipal Corporation recorded a fall in population during the same period.
  • Pandemic chaos:
    • The pandemic resulted in deaths among adults and the aged relatively more than children.
    • Its impact on age distribution in severely affected areas would be of interest as it would give indirect estimates of the number of deaths.

NPR and Census:

  • The decision to collect data for the National Population Register by piggybacking on the Census operations was the most debated issue before the Census was postponed. Such controversies negatively impact the Census, which is the largest administrative exercise for collecting data.

Implications of the delay:

  • Lack of reliable data: Sample surveys can provide reliable data on social and demographic indicators only at higher geographic levels.
  • Distribution of resources: Apart from the population count, the Census has also been providing data on population characteristics, housing and amenities.
  • Delay in implementation of schemes: The improvement in literacy and educational levels, economic activity, migration, etc., or the impact of programmes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, one must depend on sample surveys.
  • Irregularity in public representation in parliament: The Census data are used to determine the number of seats to be reserved for SCs and STs in Parliament, State legislatures, local bodies, and government services.
  • Confusion in delimitation exercise: Delimitation of parliamentary and Assembly constituencies would continue to be based on 2001 Census till data from a Census after 2026 are published.



About Digital census 2021:

  • As all previous censuses in India have been paper-based. A mobile app will be used in Census 2021. It will be a transformation from paper census to digital census.
  • The 2021 census is the 16th Indian census.
  • The government was set to spend Rs.12, 000 crore on the 2021 Census as well as for the preparation of the National Population Register (NPR).
  • This mammoth nationwide exercise will be carried out in 16 languages.
  • The census will have its reference date as March 1, 2021, but for snow-bound Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand it will be October 1, 2020.

Advantages of a Digital Census/paperless census:

  • A paperless census will drastically reduce the storage space for physical files.
  • As all data will be stored electronically, the government will save up on substantial amount of physical storage space.
  • Digital census will reduce the environmental burden by saving the trees required for paper manufacturing industries.
  • The use of technology in census will also help pave the way for other technologies, such as artificial intelligence and Internet of Things, to take root in India.
  • It will also help cut the project cost of census.
  • As the records mentioned on pages could easily be tempered now going digitally, any tampering with the data will invite punishment under the Information Technology Act, 2000.
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