History of Census in India

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  • Topic: Census, Demography, United States Census
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History of Census in India

A population Census is the process of collecting, compiling, analyzing and disseminating demographic, social, cultural and economic data relating to all persons in the country, at a particular time in ten years interval. Conducting population census in a country like India, with great diversity of physical features, is undisputedly the biggest administrative exercise of peace time. The wealth of information collected through census on houses, amenities available to the households, socio economic and cultural characteristics of the population makes Indian Census the richest and the only source for planners, research scholars, administrators and other data users. The planning and execution of Indian Census is challenging and fascinating. India is one of the very few countries in the World, which has a proud history of holding Census after every ten years. The Indian Census has a very long history behind it. The earliest literature ‘Rig Veda’ reveals that some kind of Population count was maintained during 800-600 BC. Kautilya’s Arthasastra, written around 321-296 BC, laid stress on Census taking as a measure of State policy for purpose of taxation. During the regime of Mughal king Akbar the Great, the administrative report ‘Ain-eAkbari’ included comprehensive data pertaining to population, industry, wealth and many other characteristics. In ancient Rome, too, census was conducted for purpose of taxation. The history of Indian Census can be divided in two parts i.e. Pre Independence era and Post Independence era. Pre Independence Period The History of Census began with 1800 when England had begun its Census but the population of dependencies was not known at that time. In its continuation , based on this methodology census was conducted in town of Allahabad in 1824 and in the city of Banaras in the year 1827-28 by James Prinsep. The first complete census of an Indian city was conducted in 1830 by Henry Walter in Dacca. In this Census the statistics of Population with sex and broad age group and also the houses with their amenities were collected. Second Census was conducted in 1836-37 by Fort St.George. In 1849 Government of India ordered Local Government to conduct quinquennial returns of population. As a result a system of periodical stock taking of people was inaugurated in Madras which was continued till the imperial census was ordered. These returns were taken during the official years 1851-52, 1856-57, 186162 and 1866-67 respectively. The Census in North Western provinces took place in 1852, which was regular house to house numbering of all the people in the province at the night of 31st December 1852. The quinquennial Census of 1866-67 was merged in the imperial census of 1871.

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The Home Government of Government Of India had desired ,under Statistical Dispatch No.2 of July23, 1856 , that a general census of population might be taken in 1861, which was postponed in 1859 due to the mutinies. However on 10th January,1865 a census by an actual house to house enumeration was undertaken in North western provinces. A similar census was undertaken in November, 1966 in central provinces and in 1867 in Berar. The Census in Punjab territory was taken in January 1855 and 1868 respectively. The Census of Oudh was taken in 1869. In the cities of Madras, Bombay and Calcutta census was taken in 1863, 1864 and 1866 respectively. An experimental census of lower provinces of Bengal was organized in 1869, which was completed by H. Beverley, Registrar General. In 1865 the Government of India and Home Government had agreed upon the principal that a general population census would be taken in 1871. In the year 1866-67 census was undertaken by the actual counting of heads in most of the part of the country, which is known as the Census of 1872. This Census did not cover all territories possessed or controlled by the British....
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