‘Census results will be fully out in 1-2 years' time'

Harish Damodaran
K.R. Srivats<
br> New Delhi | Updated on November 10, 2017


The total expenditure on Census 2011 will be Rs 2,200 crore, which works out to hardly Rs 18.33 or $0.41 per person. In all, we will be covering 240 million households across 640,000 villages and 8,000 towns.

The 2011 Census will be different from the earlier ones in one respect — the time frame for processing and release of results. In an interview with Business Line, the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India, Dr C. Chandramouli, says that the entire Census data will be available to users within two years' time.

When can one expect the first results of Census 2011?

We are launching the population enumeration exercise from February 9 and it will go on till February 28. This will be followed by a revision round during March 1-5. This is being done because the reference date (for the population numbers) is 00:00 hours as on March 1, 2011, and there is a possibility of additions or reductions taking place within households between the first visit (by the enumerator) and February 28.

By end-March, you can expect the first provisional population figures. Alongside, there will be details on males and female numbers, sex ratio and population density. To give the first results of such a massive exercise within three weeks is, by itself, remarkable. Then, there is the House-listing & Housing Census that we carried out last April-September as a precursor to the population enumeration. The data from that is currently undergoing processing and will be out by April-May. Our efforts, this time, are to release the entire Census results within two years, as against 4-5 years in the 2001 Census.

What is the kind of infrastructure that you have created to undertake such an ambitious project?

The total expenditure on Census 2011 will be Rs 2,200 crore, which works out to hardly Rs 18.33 or $0.41 per person. In all, we will be covering 240 million households across 640,000 villages and 8,000 towns. About 2.7 million people are involved in the exercise, which includes 2.5 million primary data collectors or enumerators. Each of these 2.5 million enumerators will cover 100-125 households over three weeks, which is 5-7 every day. The enumerators are mostly primary school teachers. We have chosen them because they are available locally and enjoy the widest social acceptability (to enter homes and collect information). In fact, this time's Census mascot is a female enumerator (who everybody would identify as the school teacher next door).

Coming to data collection and processing, we have printed some 5.4 million instruction manuals and 340 million forms in 16 languages. These will use up 12,000 tonnes of paper, sourced from companies such as West Coast Paper Mills and Hindustan Paper Corporation.

Last time, there were no stringent paper quality specifications. This time, the forms were designed by the National Institute of Design in consultation with the scanning machine and software service providers. Each scannable form has a bar code and number, which, once filled, will be despatched to data processing centres. There, they will be scanned and digitised, with the data being extracted using ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition) software and manually processed in case of unrecognised images.

Previously, we used to only do data entry, which changed in 2001, when scanning and ICR was used for the first time. As a result, what used to take nine years was brought down to 4-5 years in the 2001 Census.

This time, the technology is the same, but the recognition speeds have improved further, which should enable us to complete the job in 1-2 years.

Can you mention some of the new questions that have been introduced in the Census forms?

For the time, we are seeking information on date of birth along with the reported age. In gender, we are adding transgender (‘other') to only male and female. Similarly, for disabled, we used to include only five types of disabilities and there was a choice of listing only one disability. This time, the scope has been expanded and there is a column for multiple disability.

The other major change is with regard to workers. Previously, there were just two categories. We had the ‘main' workers, who had worked for at least six months in the past year. Those who had not were termed ‘marginal' workers, whether they worked for a single day or up to six months. Now, we have introduced categories within ‘marginal' workers — those working for 0-3 months (below 100 days) and for 3-6 months. This will help capture the impact of recent government interventions such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.

Published on February 08, 2011

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