India is a country that is known for unity in diversity among citizens. With the presence of different characteristics, it becomes necessary to collect and study social, cultural and economic data associated with the country’s people. The method to practise the exercise is called a census, which is done every ten years.
The census examines the country’s performance over the last decade. It leads to know the accurate figures of the sex ratio, growth rate, literate states, populated metros, housing and household amenities, fertility and mortality, urbanisation and other important factors affecting the policy-making and decisions of the governments. In addition, it defines the precise boundaries of constituencies and sets aside the representation to the Parliament, state legislative assemblies and local bodies.
What is the Census Act, 1948?
Being implemented in 1948, it allows the conduct of population census across the country. In 1949, the central government created a systematic way of gathering statistics on the size of the population, its growth, etc. It gives powers to specify the census date and assign a Census Commissioner and Superintendents of Census Operations in States.
It calls the public servants to discharge their duties faithfully and admonishes them against asking any question to a person not included in the questionnaire. Instead, every citizen has to answer the question, which is then duly recorded by the officials.
Who conducts the census?
Under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India, is responsible for generating data on population statistics.
When was the census started and the last and upcoming census?
It was started in 1872 under British Viceroy Lord Mayo reign. The government of India conducted the 15th National Census of the country in 2011, which is the 7th after Independence. The upcoming census is going to be held in 2021.
Mr C. Chandramouli was the Commissioner & Registrar General of the Indian 2011 Census, held in two phases, house listing and population.
How is the census conducted?
The government official comes to your house with a questionnaire comprising the name of a person, relationship to head, sex, date of birth and age, current marital status, religion, mother tongue, literacy status. However, in 2021, the central government has decided to conduct the census for the first time digitally.
On July 28, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai, stated a reply to a question in Rajya Sabha that the Narendra Modi-led central government has created a mobile application for collecting data including a portal for the management and supervising numerous census-related activities.
In the latest census, transgender heads from the households will also be included, unlike columns for males and females only. The digital census would certainly expedite the process, but the security of the data needs to be considered to prevent any misuse. Hence, there should be enough backup support for data collection. The high-level training of enumerators (data collectors) is also required.
According to the experts, 99% of India’s adult population has a unique biometric ID, namely Aadhaar, which could be used for registration and make the process simple and easy. However, the coronavirus pandemic has led the government to postpone census-related activities.