Budget 2021: India may have its first-ever mobile app-based census this year

Home Minister Amit Shah had earlier announced that Census 2021 will be conducted through a mobile phone app, moving away from the traditional pen and paper approach.

India may have its first digital census where the census data or India's decadal headcount would be collected through a mobile app. Presenting the Union Budget 2021-22, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that that the government has set aside Rs 3,768 crore to conduct the national census digitally this year.

"The forthcoming Census could be the first digital census in the history of India. For this monumental and milestone-marking task, I have allocated Rs 3,768 crore in the year 2021-2022," she said during the speech.

FM Nirmala Sitharaman

While the FM did not elaborate more on the announcement, this comes after Home Minister Amit Shah in 2019 had announced that the census of 2021 will be conducted through a mobile phone app, moving away from the traditional pen and paper approach, boosting the government’s Digital India initiative. In his announcement, the home minister had said that the exercise will be carried out in 16 languages at a cost of Rs 12,000 crore.

The current Census process involves visiting each and every household and gathering the particulars by asking questions and filling up Census forms. After the fieldwork is over, the forms are transported to data processing centres located at 15 cities across the country. The data processing is then done using software called Intelligent Character Recognition Software (ICR).

Census 2021 will be the 16th census conducted in India since the 1860s. The questionnaire will consist of provisions for responses on amenities available in a household, the source of drinking water and power, religion, occupation, languages spoken by the family etc. The census is considered the most credible and comprehensive source of information on demography, economic activity, literacy and education, housing and household amenities, urbanisation, fertility and mortality, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, language, religion, migration, disability, and many other socio-cultural and demographic data.

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Edited by Kanishk Singh