Census

Topic

CENSUS Report, 2021

 

Context
Recently, the Ministry of Home Affairs has said in the Lok Sabha that owing to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, Census 2021 and other Census-related field activities have been postponed until further orders.
• In India, a census is conducted every decade and Census 2021 will be the 16thnational census of the country.

About
• Census includes the total process of collecting, compiling, analyzing, evaluating, publishing and disseminating statistical data regarding the population and its characteristics.
• Population characteristics include demographic, social and economic data and are provided as of a particular date (reference period).
• Census provides detailed information on economic activity, literacy and education, housing and household amenities, urbanisation, fertility and mortality, scheduled castes
and scheduled tribes, language, religion, migration, disability and many other sociocultural and demographic data.

Census in Ancient and Medieval India
• The earliest literature ‘Rig-Veda’ reveals that some kind of population count was maintained in during 800-600 BC in India.
• The celebrated ‘Arthashastra’ by ‘Kautilya’ written in the 3rd Century BC prescribed the collection of population statistics as a measure of state policy for taxation.
• It contained a detailed description of methods of conducting population, economic and agricultural censuses.
• During the regime of the Mughal king Akbar, the administrative report ‘Ain-eAkbari’ included comprehensive data pertaining to population, industry, wealth and many other characteristics.

Census in Modern Times
• The first complete census of India was conducted in 1830 by Henry Walter in Dacca (now Dhaka)part of India at that time. In this census the statistics of the population with sex, broad age group, and the houses with their amenities were collected.
• Second Census was conducted in 1836-37 by Fort St.George (according to the government website of Census India.)

Non-synchronous Census
• A systematic and modern population census, in its present form was conducted nonsynchronously between 1865 and 1872 in different parts of the country.
• This effort culminating in 1872 has been popularly labeled as the first population census of India under British Viceroy Lord Mayo.

First synchronous census
• The first synchronous census in India was held in 1881 by W.C. Plowden, Census Commissioner of India.
• In this census, the main emphasis was not only laid on complete coverage but also on the classification of demographic, economic and social characteristic took in the entire continent of British India (except Kashmir).
• Since then, censuses have been undertaken uninterruptedly once every ten year.

Census act 1948
The Census Act, enacted in 1948, then provided for the permanent scheme of conducting population Census with duties and responsibilities of Census Officers.
• The individual data collected in Census under the Census Act, 1948, are not made public as per the provisions contained in the Act.
o The individual data are not used for the preparation of any other database, including the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Only the aggregated Census data at various administrative levels are released.
• Census of India is one of the Many legacies of the colonial raj continued after 1947.
The term census is derived from the latin term from censere, which means to assess.
• In the Census, data is collected on demographic and various socio-economic parameters like education, SC/ST (Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe), religion, language, marriage, fertility, Disability, occupation and Migration of the
individuals.
• The forthcoming Census is to be the first digital Census and there is a provision for self-enumeration. Census will be conducted by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
o A mobile application for data collection and a Census portal for managing and monitoring various Census related activities have been developed.

Utility of Census
Administration and Policy
• 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.
(Delimitation Exercise)
• The social and cultural data collected in the census is employed to determine the total number of seats to be reserved for members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in the House of People and the Legislative Assemblies of the States.
• Information on the geographic distribution of the population, its size and its other characteristics is essential for evaluation of economic and social problems, which must precede the determination of policy affecting economic and social development.

Research Purposes
• The changing patterns of urban-rural concentration, the development of urbanised areas, the geographic distribution of population according to occupation and education, the sex and age structure of population, social and economic characteristics of population are the questions of scientific interest which are of importance both to
research and practical problems of industrial and commercial growth and management.

Business and Industry
• Reliable estimates of consumer demand for variety of goods and services depend on accurate information on the size of the population and its distribution.
• These characteristics heavily influence the demand for housing, furnishing, clothing, recreational facilities, medical supplies and so forth.
Planning
• The census data is indispensable for social and economic planning of the Country.
• The census data also prove useful in national income estimates and estimates on differential personal incomes in rural and urban areas.
• An analysis of areas of different population size with different characteristics serves as a basis for Government plans and investigations in basic social capital.
• The data on economic activity and educational levels of the individual as collected in the census is very important for manpower planning.
• In a nutshell, the census data can prove very useful in the formulation of policies on education, health, agriculture, food and development of road, rail transport etc.
Vital statistics
• Census data serve as denominators for the computation of vital rates.
• Example: Migration Statistics, birth and death rates, fertility rates, gross and net birth rates.
• Census data on fertility can provide a bench-mark check on the reliability of current birth statistics.

Census 2011: The latest one
Targeted distribution of Tax Revenues
• This is because population plays a key role in routing revenue. Census 2011: The latest one
• Census 2011 was the 15th National Census of the country since 1872 and the 7th after Independence.
• This census was conducted in two phases which are as follows:
• House Listing or Housing Census
• Population Enumeration Census 2021 vs Previous Editions

Census 2021 vs Previous Editions
Digital Data:
§ It is for the first time the data is collected digitally via mobile applications
(installed on enumerator’s phone) with a provision of working in offline
mode.
§ This would help in reducing the delay and having the results almost immediately, unlike earlier cases where it used to take multiple years for the data to be analyzed and the reports published.
o Census Monitoring & Management Portal:
§ It will act as a single source for all officers/officials involved in Census activities to provide multi-language support.
• No Caste Data:
o The latest Census (as per the existing plan) will not collect caste data. While the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) was conducted alongside Census 2011, the outcome of the caste Census is yet to be made public.
• Transgender Head:
o It is for the first time that information of households headed by a person from the Transgender Community and members living in the family will be collected. Earlier there was a column for male and female only.

Importance of Census
Comprehensive Source of Data:
o It gathers knowledge about the Demographic Dividend of the nation which is vital for many purposes such as health survey, education survey, agriculture survey, etc.
Decision-making:
o Census is significant for any country for evidence-based decision making.
• Policy-making:
o Census is responsible for taking the collected information from a dwelling unit to the delivery unit. It will boost coherence policy-making and scientific planning, resulting in optimisation of resources.
Demarcation:
o Census data is also used for the demarcation of constituencies and allocation of representation to the Parliament, State Legislative Assemblies and local bodies.
Grants:
o The Finance Commission gives grants to the states on the basis of population figures available from the Census data.

Challenges:
• Errors:
§ There are two types of error during statistical exercise: Content error, and Coverage error which needs to be minimised.
o Furnishing of false information:
§ Due to fear of losing intended benefits of various schemes (or fear of losing citizenship this time) and lack of education, people fabricate and tend to provide false information.
o Associated Costs:
§ Huge expenditure (thousands of crores) is incurred by the government in conducting this exercise.
o Security:
§ The move towards digital mode of collecting the data is a step forward to speed up the process of analysis.
§ However, the security of the data being collected (especially on the application) and adequate backup mechanism for such data has to be looked into.
o Abuse of Data:
§ The availability of data with regional authorities has the potential for
abuse of such data, as the concerned authority has access to
everything about a particular family (ownership, caste, financial aspects, occupation, lifestyle, etc.).
o Lack of community participation:
§ Lack of community participation and inadequate training of enumerators to collect the precise and accurate data acts as a big challenge in conducting the Census exercise.

Way Forward
• There is a need to Strengthen the Data Quality which can be done by minimising the coverage error and content error.
• Proper training of enumerators (data collectors) and organizers should be organised. Also, enumerators should be well paid to keep them motivated, as they are the focal point of data collection and ensuring data accuracy.
• Public campaigns should be launched in order to make people aware about the importance of Census in their life.