Development | VOL. 12, ISSUE 74, September-October 2012

Our Census, Our Future

The motto of the Census 2011 was 'Our Census, Our Future'. The Census authorities claim that this massive exercise was spread across 35 states and union territories; and covered 640 districts, 5,767 tehsils, 7,742 towns and more than 6 lakh villages. An astounding 2.7 million officials visited each household in 7,935 towns and 6, 40,867 villages, classifying the population according to sex, religion, education and occupation. The cost of this exercise was worked out to be about a whopping 2,200 crores. At a later stage, caste related information was to be included in the Census following demands from several ruling coalition leaders – but the work remains incomplete. According to a rough estimate, the Government of India would probably end up paying nearly 5000 crores for the next Census exercise. Did we need a Census 2011 operation on such a massive scale? Preparation for the Indian Census 2021 would begin within a year or two. There are several questions that merit attention before this happens. Today, socio-economic data collection is not only undertaken by varied governmental agencies but also by a large number of reputed national and international organisations, which ultimately amounts to duplication of work. For instance, the unique identification data (UID), popularly known as AADHAR for which agencies are now engaged in collecting vital information, would provide identification of each resident across...

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