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Indian Census

It has its beginning from 1872 and the present Census 2011 will be the 15th National Census of the country. This time the Census forms are printed in 16 languages and the Instruction Manuals in 18 languages and first-ever National Population Register (NPR) will also be prepared in which all persons aged over 15 years will be photographed and fingerprinted to create a biometric national database. With this India will probably become the first democratic nation in the world which would have got its population fingerprinted in a year from now.

The Census has come from Latin: during the Roman Republic the census was a list that kept track of all adult males fit for military service.

The first such effort of Census in 1861 was postponed due to the dislocations caused by the First War of Independence (the great rebellion of 1857-59), the second one, in 1871, was spread out over two years due to political reasons and financial constraints. Later, the 1921 and 1931 censuses were affected by the non-cooperation movement and sporadic political unrest during the period that curtailed data collection to some extent. Similarly, the 1941 census operations were affected by World War II. In Independent India, too, political disturbances led to the exclusion of Assam from the 1981 census and Jammu and Kashmir from the 1991 census.

The censuses have also played an even greater role in influencing politics. For instance, census numbers played an important role in two great partitions; first, in Bengal partition, the 1872 census identified the large Muslim population in the state, and then that of India in 1947. Similarly, census data played a prominent role in the linguistic reorganization of Indian states in 1956 and also in the more recent ones like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand.

The 2001 census shows how asset ownership has been transformed over 130-odd years. While the bicycle was the most popular asset owned by 43% of Indian households in 2001, the second important durable asset was the radio—available in 35.1% of the houses. Next was TV, which had a penetration of 31.6%, followed by scooters, motorcycles and mopeds (11.5%), telephones (9.1%) and cars, jeeps and vans (2.5%).
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