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Digital Census

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    1st Oct, 2019

The home minister Amit Shah said that a mobile app will be used for the first time in the 2021 census.


The home minister Amit Shah said that a mobile app will be used for the first time in the 2021 census.


  • The Indian Census is the largest single source of a variety of statistical information on different characteristics of the people of India.
  • The first census was conducted in India non-synchronously in different parts in 1972.
  • The responsibility of conducting the decennial Census rests with the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India under Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

What is National Population Register (NPR)?

  • The objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country. The database would contain demographic as well as biometric particulars.
  • It is being prepared at the local (Village/sub-Town), sub-District, District, State and National level under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  • It is mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR.
  • A usual resident is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.

Utility of census:

  • Census data helps in future planning of the country, especially for development initiatives and welfare schemes.
  • The population census provides the basic data for administrative purposes. One of the most basic of the administrative uses of census data is in the demarcation of constituencies and the allocation of representation on governing bodies.
  • The population census provides indispensable data for scientific analysis and appraisal of the composition, distribution and past and prospective growth of the population. 
  • The census data has many important uses for individuals and institutions in business and industry.

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 ?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.

Disadvantages/challenges of Digital Census:

  • Digital data is more prone to the piracy. The data collected digitally can be used by various private agencies for personal use if breached.
  • There will be serious security concerns if the breached data be used by our enemy countries.
  • It would be difficult to register digitally for people who are digitally illiterate.

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