Saturday, April 11, 2009

Census of India 2001 - An essay

Census of India 2001: A Pointer To The Nations Development

Census is the total process of collecting, compiling and publishing demographic, economic and social data pertaining at a specified time or times to all persons in a country or delimited territory. Census of India 2001 is the fourteenth of the uninterrupted series (once in every ten years) which began in 1872. The census of India 2001 is carried out in two phases. The first phase is the House Listing Operations. This was conducted from April to September 2000. The second phase is the Population Enumeration. This was conducted from the 9th to 28th February 2001. The reference ‘Census moment’ indicating the population of our country was 0.00 hours of 1st March 2001.

The first phase of Census of India 2001 began with the House Numbering Operations in which all the houses and structures were affixed a number and listed out in a systematic order. This was followed by the House Listing Operations in which information about the material used for construction, condition of the building, purpose for which it was built etc. from each building is collected. If the building is used for residential purposes a wide ranging set of information that throws light on the quality of life of the residents is collected. This data would provide a benchmark to study the quality of life, housing stock in different parts of the country etc.

The utility of the information generated during this phase can be summarized as follows:
• It enables to ensure complete coverage if the geographical area of the country during Population Enumeration in 2001.
• It helps to asses and estimate the quality of life of people of India, which is reflected by the availability or non-availability of amenities in each household
• It is useful to find out the number of housing units – residential and non-residential in the country. It also helps to find out the purpose for which they are used.
• It is useful to identify geographical areas at different levels of development. This can be utilized for preparing development plans for specific areas and for specific amenities.
• It helps to generate statistics on the industries connected with production, marketing, and other related areas for the above items.

The major Census operation –Population Enumeration is aimed at collecting information regarding a wide range of subjects from every person. For this purpose the census authority has come up with a questionnaire consisting of three parts. The first part concerns the location particulars of the person. The second part is about individual particulars. It contains 23 questions out of which 15 questions are connected with general and socio-cultural characteristics like religion, sex, mother tongue, literacy status, disabilities etc. 5 questions are connected with the economic status of the person like- is he/she is/was a worker, economic activity etc. 2 questions concern migration characteristics. The remaining question is on fertility (for women only). The third part is meant for households engaged in cultivation and has questions like fertility of the soil, area of land under them etc.

The information collected will be tabulated to provide a static view on the demographic, social, cultural, and economic condition of the people. The statistics obtained would be useful to undertake a comparative evaluation with similar statistics returned with earlier censuses.

For all this procedure the total cost is estimated to be over Rs.1000 crore. The total process includes printing of over a billion questionnaires and the consumption of over 10,000 tons of paper. Around 2 million enumerators, drawn from the ranks of school teachers and government employees are pressed into service to interrogate 20 million households. Why do we go through this gigantic exercise? It is because a census is the most reliable pointer to the nation’s development.

The census data is indispensable for social and economic planning of the country. The planning commission utilizes the census data on the distribution of population by age, sex, classified by rural and urban areas, cities, town areas, and social groups to analyze the growth of consumer demand and savings in the process of development. An analysis of the areas of different population size with different characteristics certainly serves as a basis for government plans and investigations in basic social capital. The data on economic activity and education levels of the individual as collected in the census is very important for manpower planning. The housing needs can also be accurately estimated. Besides all these, the census data can prove very helpful in the formulation of policies on education, health, agriculture, food, development of road, rail transport etc.

The population census provides the basic data for administrative purposes. One of the most basic administrative uses of census data is the demarcation of constituencies, the allocation of representation, and reservations for SC/STs on governing bodies.

The population data has many important uses for business and industry. Reliable estimates of consumer demand for a variety of goods and services depend on accurate information on the size of the population and its distribution at least by age and sex, since these characteristics heavily influence the demand for housing, furnishing, clothing, recreational facilities, medical supplies and so forth.

The census provides reliable basis for scientific analysis and appraisal of the composition, distribution and past and prospective growth of the population. The changing patterns in the urban – rural concentration, the development of urbanized areas, the geographic distribution of population, social and economic characteristics of the population are the questions of vital interest in economic planning and development evaluation.

It is important to remember that the utility of the census is completely dependant on its accuracy. In order to facilitate the citizen to volunteer information fearlessly, the government of India guarantees to protect the privacy of the information provided by the citizens. It also guarantees that the census information given by any citizen cannot be used in any court of law against the citizen. In a country where illiteracy is widespread, it is necessary for the Census Enumerators to impress among all the individuals the utility and the need for accuracy in the census operation. All of us can contribute to the development of the country by spreading this message far and wide and helping in the successful conduct of Census 2001.

• This essay was originally written when I was in the 9th standard. That was before the Census 2001 actually had happened. Thus the usage of future tense in a few places.
• This essay won the first prize in the competition. The prize distribution ceremony was in Tumkur. I had been there with my dad. Since we reached early, we had been to a cousin’s place that was close by. I recall playing a really memorable game of chess that lasted for over 4 hours. That was the highlight of the day.
• The actual event was a drab. Iron chairs and a dusty room with no more than 8 people. The prize was a set of the small green books on Gandhi’s principles packaged inside a TITAN watch cover box.

No comments: