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Deadline for freezing administrative boundaries extended, no Census this year

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Government policies and interventions, Important aspects of governance.



The census exercise, which was originally scheduled to take place in 2021, has been further pushed to 2023-24.


Why has census been postponed?

  • Normally, before every Census, states are required to provide information on changes in the number of notified districts, villages, towns and other administrative units such as tehsils, talukas and police stations to the Registrar General of India (RGI).
  • After this RGI freezes the administrative boundaries so that census tasks can begin.
  • However, this time, RGI has extended the deadline for freezing administrative boundaries to December 31, 2022.
  • Since the Census can only begin a few months after the administrative boundaries are frozen, the possibility of a Census in 2022 is ruled out.


Census in India:

  • Definition: Population Census is the total process of collecting, compiling, analysing and 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.
  • First Non-synchronous Census: It was conducted in India in 1872 during the reign of Governor-General Lord Mayo.
  • First Synchronous Census: The first synchronous census was taken under British rule on February 17, 1881, by C. Plowden (Census Commissioner of India).
  • The decennial Census is conducted by the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Until 1951, the Census Organization was set up on an ad-hoc basis for each Census.
  • The population census is a Union subject under Article 246 of India Constitution. It is listed as serial number 69 of the seventh schedule of the constitution.
  • Census is conducted under the provisions of the Census Act, 1948.
    • Under this act, the information collected during the population Census is considered confidential and is not even accessible to the courts of law.
    • The law specifies penalties for both public and census officials for non-compliance or violation of any provision of the Act.


Current Affairs


Significance of Census:

  • Source of Information: The Indian Census is the largest single source of a variety of statistical information on different characteristics of the people of India.
    • Researchers and Demographers use census data to analyze growth and trends of population and make projections.
  • Good Governance: The data collected through the census is used for administration, planning and policy making as well as management and evaluation of various programmes by the Government.
  • Demarcation: Census data is also used for demarcation of constituencies and allocation of representation to Parliament, State legislative assemblies and the local bodies.
  • Better Access for Businesses: The census data is also important for business houses and industries for strengthening and planning their business for penetration into areas, which had hitherto remained, uncovered.
  • Giving Grants: Finance Commission provides grants to the states on the basis of population figures available from the Census data.


Fifteenth Census (2011):
In the 2011 Census, a significant fall in the case of EAG States (Empowered action group states: UP, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, MP, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan & Orissa) was noticed for the first time.


Sixteenth Census (2021): (Postponed)

  • It will be the first digital Census, also with a provision for self-enumeration.
  • It is for the first time that information about households headed by a person from the Transgender Community and members living in the family will be collected.
    • Earlier there was a column for males and female only.


How is National Population Registry different from Census?

The objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country and it is “mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR.”

While similar data is collected through Census, according to Section 15 of the Census Act, 1948, all individual level information collected in Census is confidential and “only aggregated data are released at various administrative levels.”

  • The NPR was first compiled in 2010and updated in 2015 and it already has a database of 119 crore residents.

Who is a usual resident?

A usual resident is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.

Criticisms surrounding NPR:

Many Opposition-ruled States have opposed the updation of the NPR due to its link with the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

  • According to Citizenship Rules framed in the year 2003, NPR is the first step towards compilation of National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) or NRC.


Insta Links

Prelims link:

  • Important data from Census 2011
  • What is NPR?
  • Who conducts census?

Mains link

  1. How are national census different from the National Population registry? Also, discuss the importance of the census and some of the concerns related to it. (15M)


Q1. With reference to the census, consider the following statements:

  1. The first synchronous census was taken under British rule by Governor-General Lord Mayo.
  2. In the sixteenth census, first time information of households headed by a person from the Transgender Community and members living in the family will be collected.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  • 1 only
  • 2 only
  • Both 1 and 2
  • Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: (b)