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Topic : Delayed Census in India
GS-1 Mains  : Society
Revision Notes


  • India is among a few countries that haven’t conducted the latest Census (last one in 2011).

What is a Census?

  • Periodic collection of demographic, economic, and social data of a population.
  • Used by governments to understand population characteristics and living conditions.
  • Crucial data for planning public services, allocating funding, and making informed decisions.

Census in India:

  • Conducted regularly since 1871 (complete Census in 1881).
  • Initial focus: Revenue and taxation (British rule).
  • Evolved to include demographics, social, and economic data.
  • Constitutional Mandate: Conducted under Census Act of 1948.
  • Frequency: Decennial (every 10 years).
  • Last Census: 2011.

Significance of Census:

  • Policy Formulation: Education, healthcare, infrastructure, social welfare.
  • Resource Allocation: Equitable distribution based on demographics and socio-economic conditions.
  • Demographic Trends: Urbanization, migration, population growth.
  • Monitoring Development Goals: SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).

Reasons for Delay:

  • COVID-19 Pandemic: Disrupted scheduling and planning.
  • Preparation and Planning: Requires meticulous planning, resource mobilization, coordination.
  • Political and Administrative Priorities: Focus on other activities or elections.
  • Technological and Methodological Upgradation: Updating data collection, processing, and analysis methods.
  • Data Collection Complexity: Geographical, language, cultural, and socio-economic diversity.

Impact of Delay:

  • Outdated Data: Census 2011 data is no longer accurate.
  • Welfare Schemes: Schemes like PDS (Public Distribution System) rely on population estimates.
  • Mortality Data Validation: Census data needed to validate mortality estimates during COVID-19.
  • Demographic Changes: Urbanization and migration trends may not be captured adequately.


  • Accurate Census data is crucial for effective governance.
  • The Union government needs to prioritize conducting the Census to ensure smooth planning and implementation of policies and programs.

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