The Census in India: History of Counting People


A populace Census is a course of gathering, ordering, inspecting, and dispersing segment, social, and financial information identifying all people in the country at a specific time in ten years stretches. Directing a populace census in a nation like India, with the extraordinary variety of actual provisions, is undisputedly the most critical managerial exercise of time.  India is one of the only nations globally, which has a remarkable history of holding Census at regular intervals. The Indian Census has an extremely long history behind it. The ‘Apparatus Veda’ is the earliest writing that uncovers some Population count kept up during 800-600 BC. Composed around 321-296 BC, Kautilya’s Arthasastra focuses on Census taking as a proportion of State strategy for a reason for tax collection. During the system of Mughal ruler Akbar, the Great, the managerial report ‘Ain-Akbari’ included complete information relating to populace, industry, abundance, and numerous different attributes. In antiquated Rome, as well, the Census was conducted for tax assessment.

The Census Act, 1948

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In 1947, the government prepared the essential enactment on the statistics presented in the Constituent Assembly of India. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Home Minister, was steered the bill. Patel progressed two fundamental contentions on the side of the enactment. “The proposed bill would guarantee that the statistics would not deductively coordinate the statistics, yet in addition, the count figures would be precisely ready, refreshed, and maintained. It was vital as the statistics are essential for internal changes when essential”.

  • Objective-The Act states the assistance of any resident for the census work. It also makes mandatory on each possessing a house, compound, and so on to permit admittance to statistics officials and to permit them to spot and put such letters, checks, or numbers as essential for census purposes.
  • Obligations of Citizens- The law makes it compulsory for each resident to address the Census questions honestly. The Act gives punishments for furnishing bogus responses or not offering reactions at all to the census poll.
  • Obligations of Census Officers- The law calls the census officials to release their obligations dependably and cautions them against putting any inquiry to an individual covered by the survey. They are needed to record the appropriate responses as given by the citizens.
  • Secrecy of Information- It makes arrangements for the upkeep of confidentiality of the data gathered at the Census of every person. The Act requires strict confidentiality to keep up with the singular’s record, which ought not to be utilized for any reason against the person aside from an offense regarding the actual Census. The statistics records are not open to examination and are likewise not allowable in proof. The appropriate responses determined at the Census can be utilized distinctly for measurable purposes in which the singular information gets lowered.
  • Universal Coverage- In getting sorted out a Population Census, the essential target is to guarantee that the whole region is extraordinary, without oversight or covering. Accordingly, a vital undertaking for planning for a statistic includes the area of each neighborhood the structure up of an appropriate establishment to sufficiently protect it.

Census in Pre-Independent India

The History of the Census started in 1800 when England began its Census. Yet, the number of inhabitants in conditions was unknown. In 1824, Census was conducted at Allahabad and in 1827-28 at Banaras by James Prinsep. The complete primary statistics of an Indian town were produced in 1830 by Henry Walter in Dacca.

In 1849, the Government of India requested the Local Government to lead quinquennial returns of the populace. These profits were taken during the authority years 1851-52, 1856-57, 1861-62, and 1866-67 individually. The quinquennial Census of 1866-67 was converged in the royal Census of 1871. A door-to-door identification is made for the Census by an honest attempt in North-western territories on tenth January 1865. The Census in the Punjab region was taken in January 1855 and 1868 separately. The Census of Oudh was born in 1869. In the urban areas of Madras, the Bombay and Calcutta census was taken in 1863, 1864, and 1866 separately. In 1869,  H. Beverley, Registrar General, conducted a Census of lower regions of Bengal on an experimental basis.

  • Census of 1872: In 1866-67, statistics were embraced by the real including of all the individuals in the country. This Census didn’t cover all regions that had or constrained by the British.  There were 17 questions in the House Register. The data gathered relates to the name, age, religion, position or class, race or identity, class/school, and having the option to peruse and compose.
  • Census of 1881: The Census of 1881 was embraced on seventeenth February 1881, by W.C. Plowden, Census Commissioner of India. The main focus was on complete inclusion and the grouping of segment, monetary, and social attributes. The Census of 1881 took in the whole landmass of British India (aside from Kashmir), which additionally remembers feudatory states for a political establishment with the Government of India. Twelve questions were in this Census. It incorporated new questions on marital status, primary language, birth spot, and illnesses.
  • Census of 1891:  Included Upper parts of current Burma, Kashmir, and Sikkim.  Fourteen questions in total. Acquired data via questions on faith, data on the primary religion were.
  • Census of 1901: Baluchistan, Rajputana, Andaman Nicobar, Burma, Punjab, and far-off spaces of Kashmir were incorporated. The census timetable of 1901 census contained 16 questions. 
  • Census of 1911: In this Census, the entire Empire of India, i.e., domains directed by the Government of India and mediatized Native states, were covered except for a couple inadequately occupied and unadministered lots on the bounds of Burma and Assam. Officials Asked Sixteen questions in this Census.
  • Census of 1921: The entire domain known as the Indian Empire was covered.
  • Census of 1931: The 1931 Census likewise agreed with a joint insubordination development. The census Schedule of the 1931 Census contains 18 questions rather than 16 questions of the 1921 census. The two new questions added were
    • Earner or Dependent;
    • Mother Tongue (which was asked distinctly in 1881). The inquiry ‘other language in like manner use’ was held to evoking data on the second language.
  • Census of 1941: The significant advancement of the 1941 census was utilizing random samples and setting each 50th Slip apart to list the legitimacy of an example in the Census. Used individual Slip containing 22 questions

Census in Post-Independent India:

The Bhore Committee comprised for making arrangements for post-war advancement in the field of health made an exhaustive audit of the area of the populace and suggested that a Registrar General of Vital and Population Statistics at the middle be named. A Superintendent designated at the commonplace level aims to work on the nature of populace measurements.

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  • Census of 1951: The main Census of Independent India. The count time of this Census was from ninth to 28th February 1951. An Individual Slip campaign that contained 13 questions. The columns like name, relationship, origin, sex, age, financial status, head, and auxiliary method for business were there for every person—acquired data on religion, primary language, proficiency. Out of 13 questions, 12 questions with their sub-parts were standard for all states. In contrast, one inquiry with sub-parts identifying with fertility, employment status, illness, and the family size was discretionary for specific conditions.
  • Census of 1961: Used two timetables along with the following instead of Individual Slip:
  • Household Schedule-For every Household
  • Individual Slip-For every Individual

They categorized Household Schedule into A, B, and C parts further divided into subparts. It Gathered data that identified people occupied with the development and Household industry through this timetable. The Individual Slip comprises 13 questions.

  • Statistics of 1971: Led at an alternate occasion to avoid a conflict with the mid-term Parliamentary Election. Conducted Census of 1971 in two stages:
  • House listing Operations
  • Actual Census

The principal stage was directed in an alternate piece of the country at an alternate occasion between June to September 1970 by campaigning two timetables viz, House rundown and Establishment Schedule. Collected data via 17 questions on Individual Slip.

  • Census of 1981: Straying from the past statistics, in 1981 after two timetables campaigned during the second stage:
  • Household Schedule
  • Individual Slip

The Household plan comprises two sections. In the initial segment, the points of interest of the family-like religion, SC/ST status, language spoken and gathered transcendent development materials of the divider, rooftop, and floor. Collected data on conveniences like drinking water, power, toilet, office accessible to the Household in the initial segment of the Household plan. In the second part, qualities of every person, which were indistinguishable from Individual slips, were inferred. Data on the initial not many segments partially II of Household and Individual Slip were recorded in the field simultaneously. In the leftover sections of the Household plan, deciphered the data from the Individual Slip later on.

  • Census of 1991: The primary stage utilized a House list to gather the data on lodging information and conveniences accessible to the families. During the second stage following two timetables were solicited:
  • Household Schedule
  • Individual Slip
  • Census of 2001: Conducted in two stages. It directed the House listing Operations during the primary stage, between April to September-2000. In the second stage, just Household Schedule was solicited rather than the Household timetable and Individual Slip.  The Household Schedule of the 2001 Census contains 23 questions that run into 39 sections imprinted on the two sides of the Schedule.
  • Census of 2011: The principal stage of House posting and Housing Census was a timetable campaigned to gather data on Housing and conveniences accessible to the families. Interestingly, each program was doled out as a chronic number to keep a legitimate record of every single structure. The significant flight was soliciting a National Population Register at the hour of House posting and Housing Census. Issuance of a Unique Identity Number based on data gathered through NPR. The House posting and Housing Census of 2011 contain 34 questions. During the subsequent stage, the Household Schedule campaigned.
  • Census of 2021: The Centre is on target to push the 2021 Census to 2022 because the country deals with COVID-19. “Our hands are full managing the COVID-19 pandemic,” the authorities expressed, calling attention to that first, it was the actions taken to manage the pandemic and presently the enormous immunization program in progress. The primary period of the Census — House Listing and Housing Census — and the refreshing of the National Population Register (NPR) were first to be carried out in certain States on April 1, 2020, yet were delayed because of the pandemic. The Census conducted two stages — House Listing and Housing Census from April to September 2020 and Population Census from February 9 to February 28, 2021.

Organisation of Census

The obligation of directing the decennial Census rests with the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India, under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. It very well might be of chronicled interest that India’s populace statistics are a significant managerial capacity; the Census Organization was set up temporarily for each Census till the 1951 Census. The Census Act was sanctioned in 1948 to accommodate the plan of directing populace statistics with the obligations of census officials. The Government of India chose in May 1949 to start ventures for fostering a deliberate assortment of insights on the size of the populace, its development, and so on and set up an establishment in the Ministry of Home Affairs under Registrar General and ex-Officio Census Commissioner, India. This establishment was made answerable for creating information on populace measurements, including Vital Statistics and Census.