India commences Census 2011

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Census 2011 or the 15th National Census, a gigantic exercise to capture the socio-economic and cultural profile of India’s population, began on April 1, 2010.  India undertakes this exercise every 10 years through the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner in the Ministry of Home Affairs.  The census documents details of a billion plus population on diverse subjects such as demography, literacy, fertility and mortality and provides primary data at village, town and ward level. The first census ever to take place in India was in 1872 and the last one was held in 2001.  The Census of India Act, 1948 lays down the rules and regulations pertaining to conduct of a census.  The Act makes it obligatory for the public to answer all the questions faithfully while guaranteeing the confidentiality of the information. The last census was held in 2001, which revealed that India’s population was about 1.03 billion.  Statistical data related to literacy rate, sex-ratio, urban-rural distribution, religious composition, SC/ST population and so on were captured by Census 2001.

Features of Census 2011 Census process: India uses the canvasser method for collecting census data.  Under this method, the canvasser approaches every household and records the answer on the schedules himself after ascertaining the particulars from the head of the household or other knowledgeable persons in the household.  The full detail of the methodology is available here. National Population Register (NPR): It would be a register or database of residents of the country.  The government states that such a database would facilitate better targeting of the benefits and services under government schemes and programmes; improve planning and help strengthen the security of the country.  The register is being created under the provisions of the Citizenship Act and Rules. NPR process: Basic details such as name, date of birth and sex shall be gathered by visiting each household of a resident of the country. A database shall be created with addition of biometric information such as photograph, 10 fingerprints and probably Iris information for all persons aged 15 years and above.  The list shall be sent to the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) for de-duplication and issue of UID Numbers.  The cleaned database along with the UID Number would form the National Population Register. There was a controversy over whether Census 2011 should capture caste data.  Since India last collected caste data in 1931, proponents argued that up-to-date, reliable caste data was essential to target welfare schemes towards various backward castes. Opponents however contended that this would perpetuate the caste system.  The government finally decided not to include caste as one of the parameters in the 2011 census. Table 1: Schedule of Census 2011

Schedule State/UT
April 1 New Delhi (NDMC area), West Bengal, Assam,  Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Goa, Meghalaya, Bihar, Jharkhand
April 7 Kerala, Lakshadweep, Orissa, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim
April 15 Karnataka, Arunachal Pradesh, Chandigarh
April 21 Gujarat, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu
April 26 Tripura, Andhra Pradesh
May 1 Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Punjab, Uttaranchal, Maharashtra
May 7 Madhya Pradesh
May 15 J & K, Manipur, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh
June 1 Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Nagaland