First Digital Census for India: Meaning and Method

Context

The government of India announced recently that India’s upcoming 2021 Census will be the country’s first-ever digital Census, with self-enumeration available as well. Kudos! The census plays a critical role in policy planning and formulation.

A mobile app for data collection has been developed, as well as a Census portal for the management and monitoring of various Census-related activities.

Last year, the government decided to conduct a Digital Census by providing all enumerators with devices that would allow them to enter data online. According to a government official, self-enumeration will make the task easier. For the time being, the Census will be a three-part process.

The paper schedule, which cannot be completed on a mobile device and will be completed by the enumerator on the ground, the enumerator’s mobile or digital data entry, and thirdly, the individuals’ self-enumeration exercise.

In 1872, India’s first census was conducted. The Indian Census is the country’s most comprehensive database, covering everything from age, gender, and marital status to housing and economic activity, and is the only source of primary data at the village, town, and ward levels.

What is a Digital Census, and how does it work?

The 16th Census of the country, which is set to begin this year, will be conducted digitally.

Previously, the process entailed visiting each household and filling out forms, which were then sent to data processing centres for digitisation and analysis.

Workers going door-to-door this year will have tablets or smartphones that will allow them to directly enter information into a portal.

Digital devices accelerate the process, and if all data is entered digitally, analysis is much faster.

While the procedure saves time and money, it is not always effective.

Self-enumeration for the Census will be a first-of-its-kind digital exercise that will save time.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Digital Census will also help to reduce the risk of man-to-man contact.

How will the Digital Census be carried out?

There will be a provision for self-enumeration, which entails respondents filling out census survey questionnaires themselves.

Individuals can log in using their mobile numbers and fill out their information once the Census portal is open.

Like the CoWIN app, the OTP is supposed to allow the user to see his or her information.

Individuals will be required to fill out a population enumeration form in the Census portal.

On the screen, codes will be displayed to fill in the various options for approximately 28 questions.

Individual mobile phones will receive an identification number after self-enumeration is completed.

When the enumerator goes to do the house listing, the ID number can be shared, and all of the data already entered online will be automatically synced.

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