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2021 Census of India

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What is the Census

Population Census is the total process of collecting, compiling, analyzing or otherwise disseminating demographic, economic and social data pertaining, at a specific time, of all persons in a country or a well-defined part of a country. As such, the census provides a snapshot of the country's population and housing at a given point of time.

Historical Background of Census in India

  • The earliest literature 'Rig-Veda' reveals that some kind of population count was maintained 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. 
  • During the regime of the Mughal king Akbar, the administrative report 'Ain-e-Akbari' included comprehensive data pertaining to population, industry, wealth, and many other characteristics.
  • A systematic and modern population census, in its present form, was conducted non synchronously between 1865 and 1872 in different parts of the country under British Viceroy Lord Mayo.
  • However, the first synchronous census in India was held on February 17, 1881, by W.C. Plowden, the then Census Commissioner of India. Since then, censuses have been undertaken uninterruptedly once every ten years.

Constitutionality of Census

  • The population census is a Union subject under Article 246 of the Indian Constitution and it  is listed in the Seventh Schedule of the constitution.
  • Census is conducted under the provisions of the Census Act, 1948.

Who conducts the Census in India 

  • The Decennial Census is conducted by the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner under the Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA), Government of India.

What is the role of the State government

  • State governments help in properly conducting the exercise on field through the support of local administration and trained enumerators.   

 Highlights of the Census 2021

  • The slogan of the  census   2021 is  “Our Census - Our Future”
  • The official Mascot of the Census 2021 is - Aldo
  • Census 2021 was notified in Gazette of India on 28th March, 2019
  • The Census of India 2021 is going to be the sixteenth in the continuous series as reckoned from 1872 and the eighth since independence. 
  • Updation of National Population Register(NPR) is also linked with this census
  • Census 2021 is  to be conducted in 16 languages
  • The reference date for the census was declared 1st March 2021 for all states and UT’s, except for the state of Jammu and Kashmir and snowbound non-synchronous areas of states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, for which the reference date was 01st October 2020.
  • In the Census, the castes and tribes which are specifically notified as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as per the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 and the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950, as amended from time to time, are enumerated.
  • Separate  enumeration of Other Backward Castes will not be conducted .
  • In February 2021, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman allocated ₹37.69 billion (US$500 million) for the census in the 2021 Union budget of India.

How is Census-2021 different from Earlier Ones

  • Census 2021 will be the first digital Census. A Mobile Application for collection of data and a Census Portal for management and monitoring of various Census related activities have been developed.
  • It also will introduce a code directory to streamline the process
  • The names of the mother tongue and two other languages known in order of proficiency are to be recorded by the enumerator in the 2021 Census.
  • 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.
  • Inquiry about “Main Cereal consumed” will also be done.


Written by Shankha Shubhra Dutta

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