Source– The post is based on the article “Welfare schemes will falter in the absence of accurate population data” published in The Indian Express on 30th January 2023.
Syllabus: GS1- Population and associated issues
Relevance– Population census
News– The article explains the need for conducting the census, due in 2021.
Why is conducting the population Census, due in 2021, necessary?
Challenges in proper estimation– The biggest challenge is to estimate the district population. The district is the basic administrative unit for governing, planning, and executing government projects and schemes.
In the absence of updated Census data, annual population count at the district level is estimated by using past Census information.
Such exercises give reasonably fair estimates when the year of population estimation is within the range of a maximum of 10 years. Beyond this period, estimations can be erroneous due to dynamic patterns of population components.
Many districts of India are experiencing a faster demographic transition. So using census data of 2011 after 2021 becomes more of an assumption-based model.
Covid-19 further makes the situation complex as it impacts the fertility and mortality situation in the country.
Many states lack a complete civil registration system with a full count of birth and death data. So, the demographers face enormous challenges in providing population counts at the district level.
Migration data– It has great implications for economic activities and social harmony.With economic progress, the pattern of migration in India has been changing in unprecedented ways.
Representative data– The Census counts everyone across regions, classes, religions, languages, castes, marital status, and occupation patterns . Most national-level surveys such as NFHS and NSSO do not have representative data at the population subgroup level. It will be known only via population Census.
What is the way forward?
India has a long history of conducting Census without interruption from 1881 with the rare exception of Assam in 1981 and Jammu Kashmir in 1991.
A regular Census at the national and sub-national levels has been a matter of pride for India. It has to be continued until India achieves a fool-proof civil registration system and a dynamic National Population Register.
Postponing the Census has immediate and long-term negative consequences for India. The government and other stakeholders should take urgent steps to conduct the Census as early as possible.