The Millennium Census – A mirror to Contemporary Society

The Millennium Census – A mirror to Contemporary Society

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A number of innovations and improvements are being planned for the 2001 census. The ultimate aim is ‘zero omission’ which means counting each and every head of the country. Dr. M. Vijayanunni,Registrar General and, Census Commissioner of India
Dr. M. Vijayanunni
Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India

  • What are the most important issues, this census is going to cover, other than those of former censuses?
    A number of innovations and improvements are being planned for the 2001 census. The ultimate aim is ‘zero omission’ which means counting each and every head of the country. The United Nations Principles and Recommendations (UNP&R) for the housing census have been carefully considered for adoption. The questionnaires are made to be more processor-friendly. Special concentration will be given for issues such as poverty status, aged persons, pensioners, tenure status of agricultural lands etc. For the first time, the data related to vehiculer population and its uses are being included which can be useful in planning for road development. We have decided to cover the food habits of the people also.
  • In such a big country with huge population how can the motto of ‘Zero Omission’ be maintained?
    House listing is done for all the possible areas where people are likely to live. Even for Nomads and Banjaras, our enumerators make arrangements to locate and list all such communities. The houselist is prepared a few months prior to the census enumeration, during the house numbering and houselisting operations, and provides the frame for the actual enumeration. The houselist will be used to collect data on housing and household amenities on a much larger scale than before.
  • How is the enumeration process arranged to collect multi-type data all over the country?
    Regarding data collection and processing, we may confidently say that despite the problems raised due to the vastness of the country and its population, till now the census department has the database that is not available with any other department. Slip System is being practised in the census. In India there are about 6 lakhs villages and 4.5 thousand small townships. By employing 50,000 temporary employees the data is collected and slips are coded, edited and processed. The data is then fed into the computer which takes time. We have 7000 staff including 5500 data entry staffs, 15 data entry centres and 640 terminals.
  • Is there any chance of duplication of data during enumeration process?
    China adopts a method in which the people are asked to come to the booths and register themselves. In our country ‘Point Operation’ was adopted for enumeration some 100 years ago. At a particular time, say at 8 a.m., all the enumerators would go to their respective areas and would do the counting. Even the trains would stop for the counting. But in 1931, this method was changed as increasing population created problems. The new method adopted was for better results and more time would be given to the enumerators to ensure their work and avoid duplication.  
  • Do you’ve plan to introduce ‘Optical Character Recognition’ (OCR) in the census operation?
    OCR can be used only in those countries where there is only one language — India has 14 languages. It is a matter of hope that CDAC of Pune has been able to develop OCR for all languages. Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore are successfully using OCR. It is possible for them because they are small countries and somewhere the data is not of a great volume like India, for example, Singaporian Adults’ population is less than our enumerators population.
  • How much cost is expected for the preparation of this census?
    In the previous census the cost was Rs. 150-200 crore, but the expected cost for this census is around Rs. 1000 crore.
  • What steps you’re contemplating to avoid the problem of non-availability of census data?
    This time the amenities data will be collected well in advance of the completion of the census enumeration and with the Primary Census Abstracts being available quickly thereafter, the District Census Handbooks will be taken in hand by the census organisation and brought out immediately after that. The census organisation is supplying camera-ready copies (CRCs) to shorten the time and effort of publishing census. The 2001 census data will be available not only in published form but also in floppies and compact discs. I expect that the final results will be available by January 1, 2002, that means within nine months of enumeration.
  • Is there any chance of getting the census on the internet?
    Yes, we have set up a website on the internet in 1998 which is helpful for disseminating the census data.
  • Will the data collected for consumer items be available for commercial purposes ?
    The census has to maintain the personal confidentiality so that the people cooperate to give the actual information. So personal details will not be available, only the aggregate numbers will be available. The judicious policy making process will be facilitated by the data, but the data will never meant for any commercial exploitation.
  • How much perfection we may expect from the millennium census?
    The efforts for improving the quality of the census have started with the framing of the questions and the design of the schedule format. The message of the census will be carried to every nook and corner of the country through extensive publicity measures so that every citizen of the country is aware and prepared to furnish the data when the enumerator approaches. We hope that the millennium census will hold a mirror to the contemporary society with all its strengths and weaknesses and take a faithful snapshot of it.