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Monday, Oct 14, 2019

Census 2021 to go digital, mobile app to be used for decadal headcount

Census 2021 - the 16th in the series first conducted in the 1860s - will have about 60 questions, right from the amenities available in a household, source of drinking water and power, to the religion, occupation, and the languages spoken by the family.

india Updated: Sep 23, 2019 18:46 IST
Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Sudhi Ranjan Sen
New Delhi
Recording data directly into a mobile phone is likely to speed up the process of data collection and the analysis that follows.
Recording data directly into a mobile phone is likely to speed up the process of data collection and the analysis that follows.(Arvind Yadav / HT Photo)
         

India’s decadal headcount - Census 2021 - will be carried out using a mobile phone app, Home Minister Amit Shah said on Monday, marking the end of the decades-old sight of enumerators with bundles of forms going from house to house to canvas information for the census.

“A mobile app will be used in Census 2021. It will be a transformation from paper census to a digital census,” Amit Shah told a gathering at an event to lay the foundation stone of the census authority’s new office, Janganana Bhawan.

Census 2021 - the 16th in the series first conducted in the 1860s - will have about 60 questions, right from the amenities available in a household, source of drinking water and power, to the religion, occupation, and the languages spoken by the family.

Watch: Amit Shah talks digital census in 2021, floats multipurpose ID card idea 

The newly developed mobile application will be fed into the phone of school teachers who will double up as enumerators in the census, senior government officials who did not want to be named said. In a separate exercise, the National Population Register (NPR) data – the database which will ultimately be used to issue citizenship cards - will also be updated.

Only a handful of countries have done away with paper records for the census. India, Vietnam and Swaziland are first to take this leap. In both countries, census officials had trained graduate students for about a year to double up as enumerators. India will be using an estimated 27 lakh enumerators for the Census.

Recording data directly into a mobile phone is likely to speed up the process of data collection and the analysis that follows.

“The results will be available almost immediately,” Registrar General of India Vivek Joshi said at the event. “In contrast, 2011 Census - where data was collected on paper - data took almost seven years to publish,” Joshi said.

The Census is conducted in two rounds. In the first, to be carried out next year, enumerators will have to go house-to-house to record the amenities in each household. This is called the household schedule. The headcount is carried out about six months later, in early 2021.

Census officials are also expected to revise the National Population Register when they enlist household details in 2020.

While the Census and the National Population Register - a register of residents of India - will have some common data points like name, date of birth, father names etc, the NPR asks a completely separate set of data.

For instance, it will ask people to also give their Aadhaar, passport, mobile and income tax PAN number and number of Electors Photo Identity card.

But a crucial difference between the information submitted for a census and the population register is that census data is protected by a confidentiality clause. The government commits that it will not reveal information received from an individual for the headcount.

First Published: Sep 23, 2019 16:16 IST

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