UPSC PRELIMS 2020 : Census 2021

Census 2021

Topic: Census 2021

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Geography



Census 2021

The next census of India to be conducted in 2021 with March 1, 2021 as the reference date, except for the states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

The Census 2021 will be conducted in 18 languages out of the 22 scheduled languages (under 8th schedule) and English,while Census 2011 was in 16 of the 18 scheduled languages declared at that time.



  • It also will introduce a code directory to streamline the process
  • The option of “Other” under the gender category will be changed to “Third Gender”.
  • There were roughly 5 lakh people under “other” category in 2011.
  • For the first time in the 140 year history of census in India, data is proposed to be collected through a mobile app by enumerators and they will receive an additional payment as an incentive.
  • The Census data would be available by the year 2024-25 as the entire process would be conducted digitally and data crunching would be quicker.

Facts about Census of India

  • The census of India is carried out once in 10 years(i.e decennial exercise).
  • It is carried out by Registrar General & Census Commissioner of India.
  • After independence, it is carried out from the year 1951 under the Census of India Act 1948.


Importance of Census

It tells us the demographic data like population, literacy, sex-ratio which helps the government to plan their policy according to the requirements.


Phases in Census

It contains three phases

  • House listing: The houses are listed for the Census(will be done from April to September 2020.)
  • Enumeration: The data is collected from the household. (will be done from April to September 2020.)
  • Revision: Data is documented and is revised. It will be done from March 1 to 5, 2021.

Note: Every citizen is compelled by law to participate in the Census exercise, and denial could lead to criminal activity.


Issue of Caste Data Collection

Earlier in 2018, the Ministry of Home Affairs had declared that the Other Backward Class (OBC) category would be included in the Census 2021.

However, the Registrar-General of India (RGI) has said that only SC/ST will be included as the unreliable nature of caste data collection decreases the credibility of the results. E.g.: A person belonging to the Yadav caste writes Yadu, Yaduvanshi, etc. in the form; there is no standardisation. People sometimes even confuse caste with gotra.

The 2011 caste data, collected as part of the Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC), is yet to be released by the Centre.

Even a committee formed under former vice-chairman of NITI Aayog, Arvind Panagariya to find a way to publish the 2011 Socio-economic and Caste Census data failed to provide any tangible outcome.

The last caste-based census was conducted by the British in 1931.


Census History:

  • The census provides information on size, distribution and socio-economic, demographic and other characteristics of the country’s population.
  • ‘Rig-Veda’ reveals that some kind of population count was maintained during 800-600 BC in India.
  • Arthashastr by ‘Kautilya’ written in the 3rd Century BC prescribed the collection of population statistics as a measure of state policy for taxation.
  • During the regime of the Mughal king Akbar, the administrative report ‘Ain-e-Akbari’ included comprehensive data pertaining to population, industry, wealth and many other characteristics.
  • A systematic and modern population census, in its present form was conducted non synchronously between 1865 and 1872 in different parts of the country.
  • However, the first synchronous census in India was held in 1881. Since then, censuses have been undertaken uninterruptedly once every ten years.
  • India’s last census was carried out in 2011 when the country’s population stood at 121 crore. The Indian Census is one of the largest administrative exercises undertaken in the world.



  • The caste data is difficult to enumerate as last time when it was collected, we got as many as 40 lakh names of castes. For example, a person belonging to the Yadav caste wrote Yadu, Yaduvanshi, etc. in the form; there is no standardisation. People sometimes confuse caste with gotra
  • The Census would restrict itself to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes data.
  • The Census was recorded on paper, with the information then scanned and later fed into the database, leading to the publication of various data sets.
  • “The digitisation will ensure there is not much delay and most parameters will be available by 2024-25.
  • In many countries, census is collected in one day.


Sample Question:

Consider below statements regarding census 2021:

  1. The government is planning to go for digital data collection using Android-based smartphones.
  2. Census of 2021 might skip counting caste wise data. It is because it is difficult to publish this data as there are a large number of caste in India.
  3. It will include the 3rd Gender Category for the first time.

Which of the above statements are the features of Census 2021

a. 1 and 2

b. 1 and 3

c. 1 only

d. All


Answer: d