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Census operations to resume soon, but no caste count

By Subhomoy Bhattacharjee
August 09, 2021 11:49 IST
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The government wants to complete the operations rapidly, including the actual counting of people, by February next year, reports Subhomoy Bhattacharjee.

IMAGE: Roadside dwellers being enumerated by a census official in Mumbai. Photograph: PTI Photo.

Census operations, aborted due to Covid, are set to resume soon. In a huge rush of orders, the ministry of home affairs has filled in the vacant positions of director of census operations in states over the last week.

 

The states covered include large ones like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh as well as smaller states and union territories like Mizoram and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, among others. Corresponding vacancies in the headquarters of the ministry have also got filled up.

The central government has revived work on the census as there are fresh demands for counting of caste in the operations. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has pitched for it. Opposition leaders from the state have backed his demand.

A source in the government said the rush to fill the posts of directors of census operations in states where they were lying vacant is meant to bring the counting operations to a fast-forward mode.

Once the operations begin, given India’s demographics, it will be relatively easier for the Centre to claim that no change is possible now. Any new category for enumeration will mean going back to the drawing board again.

The next census would be 10 years later in 2031, a long time-frame in political equations.

Preparations for the census got stalled last year as the first phase of Covid brought work in the office of the Census Commissioner of India and those in states to a halt.

All government offices were affected. The census organisation I India is a family of 33 directorates of census operations at each state capital. They report to the registrar general and the Census commissioner, India, in New Delhi.

Some work had begun but enumeration, including counting of people country-wide, which happens in one go, usually in the month of February of the census year, could not begin.

The government wants to complete the operations rapidly, including the actual counting of people, by February next year. Caste enumeration can wait.

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Subhomoy Bhattacharjee in New Delhi
Source: source
 
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