Census: Significant for economic development

By 2035, India hopes to have a $10 trillion economy. To accomplish this, a population census, originally scheduled for 2021 but postponed indefinitely due to Covid, is required. Such information is required for village or block-level planning in order to promote economic and social development, improve governance, and increase the transparency of public schemes and programmes.

What is a census?

  • It is simply the process of collecting, compiling, analysing, evaluating, publishing, and disseminating population-related statistical data.
  • It includes demographic, social, and economic data as of a specific date.

What is the purpose?

  • To collect information for the Central and State Governments’ policy planning and formulation.
  • The census reveals who we are and where we are headed as a country.
  • It assists the federal government in determining how to distribute funds and assistance to states and municipalities.
  • Census data is widely used by national and international agencies, scholars, business owners, and industrialists, among others.

Why has conducting a census become a requirement for economic development?

  • Inadequate civil registration system: Demographers face enormous challenges in providing population counts at the district level because many states (and districts) lack a complete civil registration system with a complete count of birth and death data. Estimates are frequently far off the mark, especially for newly formed districts and states.
  • Migration patterns are changing, and the Census data has significant implications for economic activity and social harmony. As India’s economy grows, the migration pattern is changing in unprecedented ways. The migration pattern in India in the current decade is very different from what Census 2001 and 2011 data indicate. As a result, it is difficult to draw conclusions about migration in India in the absence of up-to-date data.
  • Other surveys do not provide complete information: Everyone is counted, regardless of region, class, creed, religion, language, caste, marital status, differently-abled populations, occupation patterns, and so on. Unlike the former, most national-level surveys, such as the NFHS and NSSO, do not have representative data at the population subgroup level. Only a population census will reveal the existence of various faiths and languages, as well as the expansion or extinction of such communities.

How do demographers collect data in the absence of it?

  • Estimates based on previous census data: Demographers estimate the annual population count at the district level using past Census data for the intercensal or postcensal period in the absence of updated data. For example, suppose they use the district-level population growth rate between the 2001 and 2011 Census to estimate the population of a district in India in 2015.
  • Such estimates are reasonable for a maximum of ten years: When the year of population estimation is within a 10-year range, such demographic exercises provide reasonably accurate estimates. Estimates beyond this time period may be inaccurate, particularly at the district level, due to dynamic patterns of population components such as fertility, mortality, and migration.
  • A model based on assumptions in a faster demographic transition: Many Indian districts are undergoing a faster demographic transition, with varying fertility and mortality rates. As a result, using the 2001-2011 growth rate for the period after 2021 becomes more of an assumption-based model than a model that reflects empirical reality. Covid-19 complicates matters further by influencing the country’s fertility and mortality rates.

In India, there is a high demand for caste censuses

  • Since then, India’s population has more than tripled to 1.21 billion people in 2011.
  • According to experts, the economic status of the dominant OBC castes has improved over the last 80 years, while other castes have not benefited as much.
  • As a result, a new caste census is needed to assess the economic and social well-being of all castes.

A Look Back and a Look Forward

  • With the rare exception of Assam in 1981 and Jammu Kashmir in 1991 due to socio-political unrest and secessionist movements, India has a long history of conducting Censuses without interruption since 1881.
  • It has been a source of pride for India to conduct it on a regular basis at the national and sub-national levels.
  • It must be continued until India has a foolproof civil registration system in place as well as a dynamic National Population Register.

@the end

Managing the Population Of course, census is a massive undertaking. To organise it, the entire government system must be involved. However, it is required because it serves as the foundation for all of the plans and programmes that the government wishes to implement. Delaying it has both immediate and long-term negative consequences for India. The government and other stakeholders must act quickly to conduct the Census as soon as possible.

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