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Delayed or Missed Census of India

India is one of the largest democracies in the world. However, the country which prides in being one of the largest democracies and has been held in awe for making its people count regularly from 1881-2011 comes into question when the next census which was scheduled to be held in 2021 postponed.

The 2021 census could not transpire because of Covid, however, all the other things like campaigning and elections went normal. Moreover, even after the end of the Covid-era and almost the end of 2022, the government is least concerned about conducting the census.

History of Census in India

Census mentioned in the Start of Human civilization India is one of the few countries that takes the admiration of conducting a census every decade. The pages of history are testimony of this. The census of India finds it’s mention since the Vedic age. The earliest, oldest and most important literature ‘Rigveda’ reveals that some kind of population count was one during 800-600 BC in India. Even the most celebrated ‘Arthsastra’ by ‘Kautilya’ written in 321-296 BC stresses the census for taxation.

Census mentioned in Pre-Historic Period The first complete census of India commenced in 1830 by Henry Walter in Dacca. Hence, he is also considered as the ‘father of the Indian Census’. The census covered statistics of the population by sex and broad age group.

While it was only in 1872, that the census was done by counting the heads in most parts of the country. In 1881, a synchronous census was held in the entire country undertaken by W.C. Plowden. From then, the synchronous census began to be held in the country regularly after every decade till 2011, irrespective of diseases, world wars, partition(both Pakistan and Bangladesh) and other calamities. However, in 2021, Covid became an excuse to skip the census and the current situation is such that even almost towards the end of next year i.e. 2022 government is least bothered about conducting a census. Also, especially when the mass rallies by the government finds a place. But, conducting of census is not at all being talked about and there’s no official assurance that the country will conduct its census. Hence, it can be said to be a “missed census”.

Importance of Census

Census holds a lot of significance. It counts each and every Indian. A census data finds each and every individual and each one will find it hard to hide or conceal the data. Through the census, data related to age, gender, economic status, religion and languages spoken yields information. Hence, pathways are discovered for planning and resolving the problems and ways of fixing them.

Censuses have provided great amounts of data which also helped to know the progress and becoming alert in the past. Like- Census of 1961 and 1971 made wary about the gap in gender ratio in India. It revealed ‘son-biasedness’ in the country and that girls were being murdered both born and unborn. Also, led to the destruction of many other misconceptions prevalent in society like - There has been a rise in the population of the country or in short, population explosion due to Muslim reproductive rates. The census data clarified these confusions.

The census displayed that the actual reason behind it was “Total Fertility Rate”. TFR is rapidly coming down. This fall has been seen at a more rapid rate in Muslims than in others. However, these differences seen in TFR has more to do with region and socio-economic indicators than with caste or religion. Similarly, when we talk about the latest census, 2011. A big reality was revealed about the divorce rates. From the data, it was clear that the urban(0.89 %) and rural divorce rate (0.82%) was almost the same.

Various issues of Concern

Even before the pandemic too, there were huge protests seen in the entire country across. The whole country was in turmoil over the National Register of Citizens(NRC) as to who were the actual residents of the country.

When the present union government came in power in 2014, this was the maiden thing the government determined to do. The government tried to gather information about who were the actual residents of the country and who were not. This made a lot of population to feel insecure in the country as people not having the right papers will now be questioned.

The government wanted to do a headcount to recognize the actual residents of the country. However, the whole concept of NRC witnessed a huge protests as people took to the streets and started protesting.

Caste Census in the country

Last caste census in the county was conducted in 1931. In 2011 too, a caste census was held. However, the data related to caste census was not revealed citing several reasons.

Countries conducted their census recently Even Countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo successfully completed it’s second census in its history this year. The last census was held in 1984.

If India continues to do this. India will began to be counted in the list of the countries which have not done their census since the 1990s. Countries like Afghanistan, Somalia, Uzbekistan and Western Sahara.

Pakistan did its census after 20 years in 2017 after it conducted one in the year 1998. This gap reveals a lot about the dysfunction of the machinery and the inability to witness the facts.


The census is significant for any country. It can not only help to assess the progress but also aid in working to improvise it.

Especially for a country like India, which is in itself a country of diversity. This data can assist in knowing a lot about the population and many things can be done. For example, if there is a minority group whose number is constantly declining, required provisions can be made to stop its population from declining etc. Many problem solutions can also be conveniently taken out.

All in all, the census is about many things. It can prove to be a great way to connect government with the people. Simply, the census is not about the counting of chicks, rather means knowing about the various problems and also solutions.

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