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 What is census?

  • A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring, recording and calculating population information about the members of a given population.

  • The decennial Census of India has been conducted 16 times, as of 2021.

  • It has been undertaken every 10 years.

  • Beginning in 1872 under Viceroy Lord Mayo, the first complete census was taken in 1881.

  • Post 1949, it has been conducted by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India under the Ministry of Home Affairs, GoI.

  • All the censuses since 1951 were conducted under the 1948 Census of India Act, which predates the Constitution of India.

  • The 1948 Census of India Act does not bind the Union Government to conduct the Census on a particular date or to release its data in a notified period. 

  • The last census was held in 2011.

Use of census

  • To collect information for the Central and State Governments’ planning and policy making.

  • It aids in the government’s decision-making about the allocation of cash and assistance to cities and states.

  • Numerous national and international organisations, academics, businesspeople, manufacturers, and others make extensive use of census data.

  • Provides the Most Reliable Source of Information - Information on Castes, Language, Religion, literacy, demographic data etc.

  • Constituency Reservation and Delimitation.

  • Administration Purpose and effective governance.

  • Based on population figures obtained from the Census data, the Finance Commission awards grants to the states.

Importance of the upcoming census

  • Home Minister told the Lok Sabha that the Census will take place after the 2024 general election.

  • The proposed 33% reservation for women in Parliament and Assemblies is linked to the next Census and delimitation, which adds an additional import.

Digital Census:

  • The next Census is also set to be the first digital Census, where respondents will have the option to fill in the questionnaire from the comfort of their own home.

  • During self-enumeration, Aadhaar or mobile number will be mandatorily collected.

  • The quality and mechanism of population level data collection are evolving fast, thanks to technology. 

  • The Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Act, 2023 that will come into effect on October 1 will help a centralised population register, electoral register, Aadhaar, ration card, passport and driving licence databases. 

  • The centrally stored data will be updated real time without human interface leading to addition and deletion from electoral roll when an individual turns 18 and after death, respectively.

Directory to reduce bias:

  • For the first time, a code directory — containing possible responses and their matching codes for questions involving descriptive and non-numeric entries — has been prepared for the use of enumerators.

  • It has codes in respect of Relationship to Head, Mother Tongue and Other Languages Known, Occupation, Nature of Industry, Trade or Service, Birth Place/Place of last residence and SC/ST etc.

Concerns about the upcoming census

  • The postponement of the Census due to the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the process, and the completion of the Census may take at least 11 months.

  • Proposed amendments to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, including the creation of a centralized register, have slowed down the Census exercise.

  • There are concerns regarding the National Population Register (NPR) and its potential linkage to the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC/NRC), which raises fears of exclusion and statelessness.

  • The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019, and its potential impact on religious communities have led to apprehensions about differential treatment in the citizens' register.

  • Some state governments and civil society organizations have opposed the NPR due to its association with the proposed NRC and the potential exclusion of individuals without sufficient documentation.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Census UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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