Hi-tech Headcount: Now You Can Fill The Next Census Form Online at Home

People would be encouraged to fill in the census data through a specially designed self-enumeration web portal without the help of an enumerator.

The initiative:

When the next census is conducted in India, you would be able to fill in the questionnaire over the internet from home on a portal and the enumerators will be able to digitally transmit it to the Office of Registrar General of India (ORGI) from their mobiles. In all probability, this may mean the next census figures could be released much quicker.

Importance of this step:

This will mark a big departure from the traditional image of census enumerators coming door to door to fill up lengthy forms. Details available with News18 indicate that this will truly be India’s first ‘digital census’ and a radical change in the way the next census will be done. This will involve enabling households to fill in the census questionnaire over the internet. The tech-empowered enumerators will enter this data on their mobile phones and send it instantly to the ORGI.

This will enable making available much more of the compiled tabulations of census data to the public faster than ever before and the government will be able to get the latest data quicker for policy formulation.

About Digital census:

The Census 2021 has been delayed due to the Covid pandemic and will start soon. It will involve collecting data from 33 crore households with an estimated population of 136 crore.

Digitisation of such a huge volume of data collected from the field has been a gigantic and resource-consuming task in the past, resulting in delayed processing and dissemination of results by almost a decade. The government feels that due to this, the data loses its significance for policy formulation and immediate planning. Hence, the big plan for India’s first ‘digital census’ has been made that will provide an opportunity to give the power into the hands of the public by making them a part of the census operations.

The citizens will be allowed to change the family member details, add new family members, as well as mark family members who have moved out or died: all this online on a portal. This data will be verified and audited and it will include more than 35 parameters of socio-economic status. But a 100% digital census may not be possible. The government could use a mix of data collection, one in which the census mobile application is used in the enumerator’s smartphone, and the other of the traditional way of filling data in a paper schedule if there are connectivity issues on the internet.

Is it beneficial for Government?

The government feels a digital census could make quality and reliable official data available at the earliest for evidence-based policymaking, robust decision support system for inclusive planning, smooth implementation of welfare schemes, and ensuring and enabling the social benefits reach the focused and targeted group of beneficiaries.

The process:

Here, citizens will be able to view and update the information of their household members and the entire process of capturing the data will be digitised.

The portal involves giving secured and controlled access to a respondent’s family information and authentication based on pre-filled information available with ORGI and OTP sent to the registered cellphone number. The government changed the Census Rules in 2022 to account for ‘self-enumeration’ and to avoid litigation on the issue.


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