Soon, India will be the Most Populous Country in the World, The Country Doesn’t Know How Many People it has
(CTN News) – With over 1.4 billion inhabitants, India is anticipated to surpass China as the world’s most populated nation in two months.
But since it hasn’t been able to count them, the nation won’t know how many people there are for at least a year and probably longer.
Owing in 2021 but postponed due to the pandemic, India’s once every ten years census is now slowed down by technological and logistical challenges, and there are no indications the massive process will likely start any time soon.
According to experts, the enormous Asian economy’s social and economic planning and policy-making are impacted by the delay in updating statistics such as employment, housing, literacy levels, migration patterns, and infant mortality, which are collected by the census.
Rachna Sharma, a scholar at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, referred to census data as “indispensable,” noting that studies like the monthly labor force survey and the consumer expenditure survey are estimates based on data from the census.
Since the predictions are based on data from a decade ago, Sharma said they are likely to be far off from reality in the absence of the most recent census data.
According to a senior official at the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, predictions and estimations used to evaluate government expenditure are based on census data from 2011, the most recent count.
According to a ministry official, the ministry’s responsibility is to provide the best forecasts and cannot comment on the census procedure. Requests for comments from the Prime Minister’s Office were not answered.
Two more government representatives, one from the federal home (interior) ministry and the other from the office of the Registrar General of India, said that the choice to optimize the census procedure and make it error-free with the use of technology was primarily to blame for the delay.
The software that will be used to collect census data via a mobile phone app has to be synchronized with current identification databases, including the national identity card or Aadhaar, which takes time, according to a home ministry official.
Requests for a response from the Registrar General of India’s office, which is in charge of the census, went unanswered.
To conceal statistics on politically sensitive problems, such as unemployment, before the national elections scheduled for 2024, the administration has been accused of postponing the census by the major opposition Congress party and opponents of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Congress spokesman Pawan Khera remarked, “This administration has often shown its blatant antagonism with data.”
“We have seen how the Modi administration has favored concealing crucial facts on essential issues like jobs, Covid deaths, etc.
Gopal Krishna Agarwal, the national spokesman for the governing Bharatiya Janata Party, denied the criticism.
“I’m curious as to how they arrived at this. What social metric does our nine-year success compare poorly to their performance in 65 years?” He was alluding to the duration of the Congress party’s rule.
According to United Nations estimates, India may surpass China in population on April 14 when it reaches 1,425,775,850.
India has a population of 1.21 billion as of the 2011 census, which means the country’s population has grown by 210 million, or almost as many people as Brazil, in the last 12 years.
About 330,000 government school teachers in India walk door-to-door to list every home in the nation before returning with a new set of questions for the census.
According to the strategy created for 2021, they ask more than two dozen questions every time in 16 different languages over the two stages that are spaced out over 11 months.
The figures will be tallied, and the full results will be released months later. In 2019, it was predicted that the process would cost 87.5 billion rupees ($1.05 billion).
Teachers have now returned to the classroom, but the census and nine state elections that must be held in 2023 and 2024 will again cause disruptions in the classroom. The question of payments has also emerged.
Teachers are required by law to participate in elections and the census, but Arvind Mishra, a senior official of the All-India Primary Teachers Federation with 2.3 million members, said the government has to boost the pay they get.
According to Mishra, they need to implement a systematic payment structure for the drill. Teachers should not hesitate to request payment for the world’s greatest counting exercise since they deserve respect.
The highly successful national identity program Aadhaar is run by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), a government agency.
A former top official of UIDAI attempted to downplay the importance of the data from the decennial census by claiming that the identity program is a “de facto, real-time” census.
On December 31, 2022, 1.30 billion persons were registered for Aadhaar, versus a predicted population of 1.37 billion at the time, according to UIDAI.
According to the former UIDAI employee, the gap would mostly be caused by children who are not registered and deaths that are not updated.
Former Indian top statistician Pronab Sen said that the sample registration system (SRS) calculates birth and death rates reasonably accurately depicts the population growth rate.
In contrast to Aadhaar, the SRS survey compiles a representative sample of births and deaths and extrapolates the results to a greater area.
It’s not precise, said Sen. “The issue is that, when looking at the nation as a whole, SRS and our estimates are rather accurate. It won’t provide you with information on how many people live where in the nation.
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