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What is Census? How is it done?

President was the first of a billion-plus population in the country to be counted as lakhs of enumerators fanned out in a gigantic effort to document every citizen over the next three weeks in the world's second largest census.

Kick starting the second phase of Census 2011, a woman enumerator went to Rashtrapati Bhavan and collected information for a questionnaire from the country's first citizen.

The decennial exercise will cover the entire country. India has an estimated 1.17 billion population.

The biggest census ever to be attempted in human history began in April last year. The 15th national census exercise, which will see over 25 lakh officials capturing the socio-economic-cultural profile of its citizens, will also seek information for the creation of the National Population Register. Here is all that you need to know about the census...

What is census? How is it useful?

The census is the most credible source of information on demography (population characteristics), 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 socio-cultural and demographic data since 1872.

Census 2011 will be the 15th national census of the country. This is the only source of primary data at village, town and ward level. It provides valuable information for planning and formulation of polices for central and state governments and is widely used by national and international agencies, scholars, business people, industrialists, and many more.

The delimitation/reservation of constituencies -- parliamentary/assembly/panchayats and other local bodies is also done on the basis of the demographic data thrown up by the census. The census is the basis for reviewing the country's progress in the past decade, monitoring the on-going schemes of the government and most importantly, plan for the future.

What is the National Population Register? What is its use?

The NPR would be a register of usual residents of the country. The NPR will be a comprehensive identity database that would help in better targeting of the benefits and services under the government schemes/programmes, improve planning and help strengthen security of the country. This is being done for the first time in the country.

How will both these exercises be conducted?

The census is a statutory exercise conducted under the provisions of the Census Act 1945. The NPR is being created under the provisions of the Citizenship Act and Rules.

Census process

The census process involves visiting each and every household and gathering particulars by asking questions and filling up census forms. The information collected about individuals is kept absolutely confidential. In fact, this information is not accessible even to courts of law.

After the fieldwork is over the forms are transported to data processing centers located at 15 cities across the country. The data processing will be done using sophisticated software called Intelligent Character Recognition Software. This technology was pioneered by India in Census 2001 has become the benchmark for censuses all around the globe.

This involves the scanning of the census forms at high speed and extracting the data automatically using computer software. This revolutionary technology has enabled the processing of the voluminous data in a very short time and saving a huge amount of manual labor and cost.

National population register process

Details such as name, date of birth, sex, present address, permanent address, names of father, mother and spouse etc will be gathered by visiting each and every household. All usual residents will be eligible to be included irrespective of their nationality. Every household will be given an acknowledgment slip at the time of enumeration.

The data will then be entered into computers in the local language of the state as well as in English. Once this database has been created, biometrics such as photograph, 10 fingerprints and probably iris information will be added for all persons aged 15 years and above.

This will be done by arranging camps at every village and at the ward level in every town. Each household will be required to bring the acknowledgement slip to such camps. Those who miss these camps will be given the opportunity to present themselves at permanent NPR centres to be set up at the tehsil/town level.



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