India among a select few countries that have not conducted the Census    

Why in the news?

India’s last census was conducted in 2011, and the scheduled Census 2021 has been indefinitely postponed, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. This delay has significant implications for welfare schemes and policy planning reliant on accurate population data.

Significance of Census Calculation  

  • Foundation for Policy Planning and Governance: Census data forms the foundational basis for policy planning and governance across various sectors such as education, healthcare, infrastructure development, and social welfare.
  • Allocation of Resources and Welfare Benefits: Census figures are crucial for determining the allocation of resources and distribution of welfare benefits like food subsidies, housing schemes, healthcare facilities, and educational resources.
  • Monitoring Socio-Economic Development: Census data enables monitoring of socio-economic development indicators over time, such as literacy rates, employment patterns, poverty levels, and household incomes.

Present Observations:

  • Global Comparison: India is among a minority of countries (44 out of 233) that have not conducted the latest census, despite most nations managing to proceed with their census rounds after March 2020, amidst the pandemic. This delay places India alongside conflict-affected countries and those facing economic crises.
  • Regional Context: Among BRICS nations, India is the only country yet to conduct its latest census, contrasting with others such as Brazil, China, South Africa, and Russia, which have completed their census rounds during or after the pandemic.
  • Dependency on Census Data: Census data serves as the primary source for accurate demographic information at grassroots levels, crucial for planning and implementing welfare schemes across various sectors, including education, healthcare, and social security.

Implications for Society:

  • Welfare Scheme Implementation: The absence of updated census figures hampers the effective implementation of welfare schemes such as the Public Distribution System (PDS), National Family Health Survey, and National Family Security Act. Outdated population data from 2011 leads to inaccuracies in identifying beneficiaries, potentially excluding millions from essential services and entitlements.
  • Education and Social Development: Schemes like the Eklavya Model Residential School (EMRS), aimed at providing quality education to Scheduled Tribe (ST) children, are adversely affected. Allocation decisions based on 2011 census data may not accurately reflect current demographic realities, leading to misplaced resource distribution and missed opportunities for targeted interventions.
  • Economic and Social Planning: Census data plays a pivotal role in economic planning, resource allocation, and policy formulation. Without updated population figures, India faces challenges in devising evidence-based policies that address regional disparities, socio-economic needs, and demographic shifts effectively.

Conclusion: The indefinite postponement of Census 2021 in India has profound implications for governance, socio-economic planning, and equitable development. Addressing these challenges requires expedited efforts to conduct the census and ensure accurate demographic data to inform inclusive policy frameworks.

Mains question for practice: 

Q Discuss the present observations regarding India’s census delay and analyze its implications. 15M

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch