Next Census will be in electronic mode

Published on - May 10, 2022

Source: PIB


According to the Union Home Minister, India's next census would be an electronic or e-census.

He stated that the government was developing new software for this reason. "We will connect birth and death records to the Census... "It implies the Census will be automatically updated after every birth and death in the country," he explained. "A person's name is entered into the census at birth." When they reach the age of 18, their name will be added to the electoral roster, and when they die, their name will be removed."

What is a Census:

The census collects data on the population's size, distribution, socioeconomic, demographic, and other characteristics.

The first documented census in India is estimated to have taken place in 330 BC under Emperor Chandragupta Maurya's reign, under the guidance of Kautilya or Chanakya and Ashoka.

It was initiated in 1872 by British Viceroy Lord Mayo. It aided in the development of new policies and government initiatives to address community needs.

In 1881, India had its first synchronised census. Since then, censuses have been conducted once every ten years.


The Indian Census is the most comprehensive single source of statistical data on several aspects of the Indian population.

The first census in India was held non-synchronously in different sections of the country in 1972.

The Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India, under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, is in charge of conducting the decennial Census.

The following are the benefits of a paperless census:

A paperless census will significantly reduce physical file storage space.

Because all data will be kept electronically, the government will save a lot of physical storage space.

A digital census will lessen the environmental impact by conserving trees used in the paper production industry.

The use of technology in censuses would also help pave the road for new technologies to take root in India, such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.

It will also assist to reduce the cost of the census process.

Because the records listed on pages might readily be tampered with now that they are digitised, any tampering with the data would result in a penalty under the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Digital Census Disadvantages/Challenges:

Digital data is more vulnerable to piracy. If the data is breached, it might be utilised for personal purposes by numerous private agencies.

There will be major security implications if the compromised data is exploited by our adversaries.

It would be difficult for persons who are technologically illiterate to register digitally.

The Census is one of the most reliable sources of data on the following topics:

  1. Demography.
  2. Business Activity.
  3. Education and literacy.
  4. Housing and household amenities.
  5. Population Growth, Fertility, and Mortality.
  6. Scheduled Castes and Tribes.
  7. Language.

The Union government changed the Census Rules enacted in 1990 to allow details to be taken and kept in an electronic format, as well as to allow respondents to self-enumerate.

The decennial Census, which had been postponed indefinitely owing to the COVID-19 epidemic, will be held for the first time in both digital and paper formats (questionnaire/forms).

According to the Union Home Minister's annual report for 2019-20, there will be three approaches to updating the NPR database:

Self-updating, which will allow residents to update their own data fields after following some authentication protocols on a web portal;

Updating of NPR data in paper format; and

Updating of NPR data on mobile mode.

The respondent's information will be shown on a mobile application built in-house for the Census, but no "biometrics or papers" will be gathered. These particulars will then be saved in the system for future reference.

What is the National Population Register (NPR)?

The NPR's goal is to compile a comprehensive identification database of every regular resident in the nation. The database would include demographic and biometric information.

It is being developed at the local (village/sub-town), sub-district, district, state, and national levels in accordance with the Citizenship Act of 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules of 2003.

Every normal inhabitant of India is required to register with the NPR.

A typical resident is defined as a person who has resided in a local region for the last 6 months or more or who plans to reside in that area for the future 6 months or more for the purposes of NPR.

The procedure that will be followed during the digital Census:

The national government's Census portal will demand individuals' cell phone numbers and other data in order for them to log in.

In the case of self-enumeration, the individual will fill in the appropriate information using suitable codes for each field. Following self-enumeration, an identifying number will be given to the individual's registered phone number.

The same ID number can be shared with the enumerator, allowing the official to immediately sync the data.

What had happened up to this point?

Enumerators used to visit each residence and ask a series of questions before entering the information into a form.

The questions included the utilities provided in a household, the supply of drinking water and electricity, occupation, and the languages spoken by family members.

Other nations that are doing digital censuses:

Only a few nations have abandoned paper records for census purposes. Along with India, Vietnam and Swaziland are the first to take this step.

Census authorities in the other two nations had spent nearly a year training graduate students to double as enumerators. For the Census, India will employ an estimated 30 lakh enumerators.

While presenting the budget, Finance Minister promised a $3,378 crore provision for digital Census.

The Way Forward:

Capacity-Building: Enumerators (data collectors) and organisers should be properly trained. Enumerators should also be highly compensated to keep them engaged, as they are the focal point of data gathering and data accuracy. Any disgruntled/aggrieved enumerator can degrade data quality.

Improving Data Quality: This may be accomplished by reducing coverage and content errors (through increased list of questions in the survey). It will contribute to influencing the conversation surrounding the government's programme execution.

Campaign Planning: Massive public awareness initiatives should be planned to educate people about the relevance of the Census in their lives.

In addition, the government must launch a widespread media campaign through print and electronic media (through commercials) to ease the people's worries and uncertainties.