oppn parties What Will The High-Powered Committee Scrutinize Without Latest Census Data?

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Calcutta HC scraps 2016 teacher appointment process, 25757 teachers to lose their jobs, ordered to repay salaries withdrawn in 4 weeks
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What Will The High-Powered Committee Scrutinize Without Latest Census Data?

By Our Editorial Team
First publised on 2024-02-03 06:53:55

About the Author

Sunil Garodia The India Commentary view

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman revealed during her interim budget speech in Parliament that the government would establish a high-powered committee to scrutinize the "challenges arising from fast population growth and demographic challenges," along with a range of population-related issues. Although the announcement was greeted with applause from the treasury benches, there would have been no need for such an exercise if Census 2021 had been carried out immediately after the Covid situation became normal.

There is no doubt that addressing issues related to population growth and demographic changes is crucial in a vast and diverse nation like India. There is unanimous agreement on the necessity of mapping population and demographics. The Census was postponed due to the pandemic-related disruption in 2020 (when it was to be set in motion) but since then, more than three years have passed without the Centre feeling the need for it. Considering the government's track record in data collection and management, it would be better to conduct the Census immediately after the general elections as the Census data will provide the latest data that can then be scrutinized by the high-powered committee.

The government must realize that although data is collected through various channels such as the National Family Health Survey and the Sample Registration System, these efforts are not as comprehensive as the Census survey. The need is for consolidating data from diverse surveys to kick-start the crucial Census enumeration. For, the Census Commissioner of India has unmatched statutory powers and autonomy and past experience has shown that data collected via Census is reliable and offers scope for analyzing the demographic challenges faced by India.

It is difficult to speculate on the motive behind the high-powered committee instead of carrying out the Census but this approach seems misguided. Census is the best way for comprehensive and unbiased collection of demographic data for informed policymaking and planning for India's future.