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New Delhi, April 1, 2010
India today launched its Census 2011, the biggest such exercise since humankind came into existence as part of which the Government will try to count, identify and issue identity cards to around 1.2 billion people.
The exercise began with the enumeration of President Pratibha Patil at Rashtrapati Bhavan here this morning by the staff of the Office of the Registrar General and the Census Commissioner of India. Union Home Minister P Chidambaram was amongst those present.
Along with the decennial census operation, the Government is also preparing the country's first ever National Population Register (NPR), which is designed to be a comprehensive identity database of all usual residents of India.
Ms Patil requested all residents of the country to wholeheartedly participate in the exercise so as to make it a resounding success. She said that the exercise would not only benefit the nation but also each individual.
Later, Vice-President Hamid Ansari completed the formalities of enumeration when the census officials met him at his residence.
Registrar General and Census Commissioner C Chandramouli and Deputy Director General, National Population Register, S K Chakraborty, among others, were present on the occasion.
The Census of India has emerged as the most credible source of informationn about demography, economic activity, literacy and education, housing and household amenities, urbanisation, fertility and mortality, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, languages, religion, migration, disability and many other socio-cultural and demographic aspects of India since 1872.
Census 2011 is the 15th National Census in the country and the seventh since Independence, having been conducted uninterruptedly every ten years since 1872 through the freedom struggle, partition, floods, wars and earthquakes.
It will be conducted in two phases. The first phase is called the Houselisting and Housing Census. This will be conducted between April and July, depending on the convenience of different States/Union Territories (UTs).
This operation will be conducted over a period of 45 days in each State/UT. Thus a State starting on April 1 will finish on May 15 and so on. The details required for creating the NPR will also be canvassed during this phase.
The second phase, the Population Enumeration, will be conducted simultaneously all over the country from February 9 to 28, 2011.
More than 2.5 million people will be deployed around the country to conduct the exercise. The Census will cost around Rs 2209 crores while the approved cost for the creation of the NPR is Rs 3539.24 crores.
The exercise will cover 35 States and Union Territories, 640 districts, 5767 tehsils, 7742 towns and more than 600,000 villages. More than 24 crore households will be visited and about 1.2 billion people enumerated.
The Census process involves visiting each and every household and gathering particulars by asking questions and filling up Census Forms. The information collected about individuals is kept absolutely confidential. In fact this information is not accessible even to courts of law. This provision is there to encourage people to give correct information in the Census without any fear. After the field work is over the forms are transported to data processing centres located at 15 cities across the country.
The Intelligent Character Recognition Software (ICR) that was pioneered by India in Census 2001 has become the benchmark for censuses all around the globe. This involves the scanning of the Census Forms at high speed and extracting the data automatically using computer software. This revolutionary technology has enabled the processing of the voluminous data in a very short time and saving a huge amount of manual labour and cost.
According to official sources, the census data is the only source of primary data at village, town and ward levels. It provides valuable information for planning and formulation of polices for the Central and State Governments and is widely used by national and international agencies, scholars, business people, industrialists and others.
The delimitation/reservation of parliamentary, assembly, panchayat and other electoral constituencies is also done on the basis of the demographic data thrown up by the Census.
The Houselisting and Housing Census will provide comprehensive data on the conditions of human settlements, housing deficit and consequently the housing requirement to be taken care of in the formulation of housing policies.
This will also provide a wide range of data on amenities and assets available to the households, information needed by various departments of the Union and State Governments and other non-Governmental agencies for development and planning at the local level as well as the State level. This will also provide the frame for Population Enumeration.
The NPR will be an identity database of all usual residents in the country containing specific items of information about each individual in the country.
Among other things, it is expected to help in better targeting of the benefits and services under various Government schemes and programmes, apart from strengthening the security of the country.
The NPR will include details such as the name of the person, father’s name, mother’s name, spouse’s name, sex, date of birth, place of birth, current marital status, education, nationality as declared, occupation, present address of usual residence and permanent residential address.
The database will also contain photograph and ten finger biometry of persons above the age of 15 years.
The draft list of Local Register of Usual Residents (LRUR) will be displayed in the villages in rural areas and wards in urban areas for inviting objections like spellings in names, address, date of birth and so on and also regarding residency status of any person enumerated.
The draft LRUR will also be placed before the Gram Sabha or local bodies for authentication of usual residents.
Once the NPR database is finalised, the next task would be assigning every individual a Unique Identification Number (UID) by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). The UIDAI will undertake biometrics based de-duplication and assign UID numbers to each resident. The cleaned database along with UID number will form the final NPR database. \
The ORG and CCI, who has been designated as the National Registration Authority, will maintain and update the NPR database. For this purpose, NPR Centres will be set up at Tehsil level. Persons who have missed the two rounds of photography/biometric capture can come here for giving their particulars.
Normally, the entry into NPR will be only through the process of Birth Registration or through valid immigration. New persons can also apply but will be admitted into the NPR system only after rigid verification.
The State Revenue Officials at the Village, Tehsil and District level will continue to function as Registrars for NPR under the Citizenship Act. Services such as changes in the Name/Address, loss or damage of cards, capture of photograph/biometrics, issue of new cards and so on will be rendered at these NPR Centres.
The Government proposes to issue an identity card, which will be a smart card with UID number printed on it and include basic details like name, mother’s / father’s name, sex, date and place of birth and photograph. Complete details will be stored in the chip.
The issue of identity (smart) cards will be done in coastal villages, followed by the towns, cities in coastal areas and so on till the country is covered.
At present, there is no standard database covering the entire population. The NPR will provide a standard identity database and facilitate the allotment of Unique Identification (UID) Number to each individual, above the age of 15 years.
A biometrics based identity database alongwith UID number would benefit the common man in many ways. It will obviate the need for producing multiple documentary proofs of identity by an individual for availing government or private services.
The existence of such a data base along the length and breadth of the country will impart a new direction to the overall governance by not only better targeting of the benefits and services under the government schemes/programmes but also by better planning.
The Unique Identification Number (UID) of each individual in the NPR database will become the link number between the sectoral data bases, thus bringing about a host of conceivable benefits.
NPR would also serve the requirement of enhancing the internal security of the country apart from sprucing up tax collection and targeting welfare schemes better in areas like education, rural development health and social security.